Covid-19: Everyone needs to act to stop spread, Tony Holohan warns

If the country is down to 100 cases per day by December 1, the lockdown will have done its job, the CMO said.
Covid-19: Everyone needs to act to stop spread, Tony Holohan warns

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, said the reproduction rate of the virus needs to get as low as 0.5 again. File picture

Everyone needs to behave in 'a manner' that will drive down levels of Covid-19, the chief medical officers has warned.

Dr Tony Holohan was speaking in the wake of the decision to move the entire country into a level 5 lockdown for the next six weeks.

He said these measures are needed to protect schools and childcare services, to protect the health of people and to protect the health service.

It comes as case numbers continue to increase in Ireland, with 1,031 announced yesterday. That included 235 in Dublin and 232 in Cork.

Dr Holohan called on people who have symptoms, or who may be waiting for a test or a test result, to self-isolate

The level of infection in the community at the moment is a threat to everyone, Dr Holohan told

RTÉ radio, and everyone has a role to play in keeping infection levels down. Dr Holohan called on people who have symptoms, or who may be waiting for a test or a test result, to self-isolate.

People who were symptomatic could not attend work or school or look after vulnerable people, he warned.

Dr Holohan said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will continue to track the 14-day incidence rate and monitor the positivity rate and hospitalisations, including ICU admissions. If the country is down to fewer than 100 cases a day by December 1, then “we will have achieved what we set out to do.” 

Back in the spring the R rate - the rate of reproduction of the virus - had been brought down to around 0.5 and Ireland needed to get back to that level again, he said. Dr Holohan urged the public to follow public health advice “if we are to break the well-established chains of transmission.” 

We will do everything we can to protect the provision of schools

The lower the numbers go during the level 5 restrictions, the longer before numbers will rise again, he added. Nphet wants to be able to stop infections at local level as quickly as possible which was why local measures were so important to stop community transmission. 

“These are the measures that will protect us as advised by the WHO," Dr Holohan said.

When asked if older people should cocoon, Dr Holohan said everyone should stay at home except for essential reasons. Everything must be done to maintain the education of children, but he pointed out that incidence levels of the virus in schools were very low. 

“We will do everything we can to protect the provision of schools.” 

In response to question about the government's decision to allow elite sports such as the GAA championship to continue, Dr Holohan said Nphet had looked at the challenge of mental health and isolation and some of these activities were well planned and well organised and gave people something to which they could look forward.

On the issue of church attendance, Dr Holohan said the virus needed contact between people, particularly indoors, so the more contact between people could be minimised the better the chance of stopping the chains of transmission.

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