'We know how to prevent transmission': NPHET chair says no excuse for uncontrolled community transmission

'We know how to prevent transmission': NPHET chair says no excuse for uncontrolled community transmission

Chair of the NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan, has said that there is no excuse for uncontrolled community transmission of Covid-19. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is not ruling out local lockdowns, according to the HSE's Chief Clinical Officer.

Counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly are to be issued with further advice from NPHET later after Covid clusters at meat factories and direct provision centres emerged.

In the past two weeks, 226 cases - mainly in meat plants - have come from these three counties, accounting for almost half of all recent cases.

O'Brien Fine Foods in Timahoe has suspended all operations following 80 cases among workers while a further 42 are being tested.

We know there will be at least 60 new cases confirmed in Kildare, Offaly and Laois this evening.

Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North James Lawless has spoken with the Health Minister about opening a testing centre in Kildare.

"I explained to Minister Donnelly that currently there is no testing centre in Kildare. I am aware of one family who had to travel to a testing facility at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, and others who were invited for testing but did not travel due to difficulties in getting to the stadium."

Deputy Lawless said that all supports should be provided to the clusters in Kildare to ensure their full recovery and to prevent it becoming a serious outbreak in the community.

Dr Colm Henry says it would be a calamity for the country if we have widespread community transmission again.

"Nothing can be ruled out because, as we have learned the hard way, everything has to be considered in order to avoid unrestrained community transmission.

"We have seen the impact of what happens when there is unrestrained community transmission in nothern Italy early on in the pandemic and in China.

"We can't afford it, our health system wouldn't be able to deal with it, we wouldn't be able to open up education and all those cancelled health procedures as we had to do at the end of March again if we face those spectres."

Chair of the NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan, has said that there is no excuse for uncontrolled community transmission of Covid-19.

"Just speaking as a citizen, there is no excuse for us going back to a situation where we have uncontrolled community transmission which threatens our health service.

"We all have a responsibility to make sure that does not happen.

We know how. We didn't know in March but we know now how to prevent transmission of the virus.

Colm Henry from the HSE says he cannot be sure hospitals would be able to cope with a surge in Covid-19 admissions.

"If I can be really stark about this, we know what happens if there is uncontrolled community transmission because we have seen what happened in other countries.

"What happens then is your hospital system, even the most developed hospital system in western Europe such as the likes of nothern Italy, become overrun and that includes intensive care units and then difficult decisions are made on admission into intensive care.

"Then intensive care is provided outside of intensive care setting at not the same standard."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is urging people to do everything they can to eradicate Covid-19 before the winter flu season begins.

WHO spokesperson, Margaret Harris, says it is important people are alert given the recent rise in cases across Europe.

"It loves the fact that we love to be together and if you have got any body with a virus in their physical system, they can transmit it unknowingly.

"We know now that a lot of people don't have strong symptoms, early symptoms so it is very important to do all the things that we know work."

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