'The mission has not been accomplished' - Tony Holohan urges caution despite latest Covid19 figures

The lowest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in almost three months has been reported, but the "mission has not been accomplished", the country's chief medical officer has warned.
'The mission has not been accomplished' -  Tony Holohan urges caution despite latest Covid19 figures

The lowest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in almost three months has been reported, but the "mission has not been accomplished", the country's chief medical officer has warned.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said four more people with Covid-19 have died, bringing a total of 1,683 in Ireland.

However, just nine new cases were confirmed as of midnight on Sunday, bringing the total of 25,207 confirmed cases overall since the outbreak began.

The number of confirmed cases was the lowest since March 11, but Dr Tony Holohan urged caution at Monday's daily briefing.

"Mission has not been accomplished. Nine is obviously a small number in relative terms compared to some of the numbers we have given before. There is a weekend effect sometimes in terms of not just reporting, but people's attendance at services and so on. It won't surprise me if tomorrow the number is a little higher than that.

"All disease parameters we've seen are continuing on a downward trajectory...but we have two more phases to go, we're in the second phase now of the easing of restrictions...but we're only halfway through this," he said.

He acknowledged that there was "always the possibility" that the advice the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) gave may not be correct, but that it believed the pace of the easing of restrictions was right.

In relation to restarting cancer screenings, he said equating reopening those services to having a pub open was misleading.

They were "two totally different things", he said, because of the complexity involved and reducing the risk of infection spreading.

Mr Holohan said the advice of NPHET was for people to use face masks when shopping, after retailers reopened their doors on Monday.

It was an added layer of protection, he said, urging retailers to take that on board when it came to having the public in their premises.

Some people could not wear masks for medical and other reasons, which is why they were not mandatory, he said.

"Right now, I don't think we will see a change, but we will redouble our efforts to advise the public about the importance of wearing masks in public and in retail situations. We'll keep stressing it."

008/06/2020 Members of the public on Henry Street following Phase 2 of the Government plans to help the economy during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in Dublin's city centre. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
008/06/2020 Members of the public on Henry Street following Phase 2 of the Government plans to help the economy during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in Dublin's city centre. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mr Holohan said he had been to a local supermarket at the weekend and that the numbers of people wearing masks was not high.

"But I could see that all the other measures in place in the shop that I was in was really good. Retail organisations have been really responsible in how they have gone about putting in place arrangements to support their customers and staff to protect themselves," he said.

Research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health shows that a growing majority of adults (62%) feel that the worst of the pandemic is behind us, with a decline in the number of people who think we are likely to see a second wave, falling from 63% at the end of May to 54% now.

Dr Siobhán Ni Bhriain, consultant psychiatrist and HSE integrated care lead, said; “A growing majority (62%) of adults feel that the worst of the pandemic is behind us. This is not a guarantee and especially so if public health behaviours are not adopted by all of us.

"Decision making on an individual level, particularly around socialising and crowd participation, is required of all of us in this new phase of restrictions.”

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