Covid-19: Dr Holohan warns against blame culture as 252 cases confirmed

There are currently 291 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 33 people are in intensive care receiving treatment for the virus. 
Covid-19: Dr Holohan warns against blame culture as 252 cases confirmed

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan. Picture: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

A culture of blame around Covid-19 is not helpful, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) has warned.

Dr Tony Holohan was speaking as a further 252 cases of the virus were announced -the lowest number since September 27 - but there was no new deaths for the first time since last month. 

Dr Holohan said that he did not believe that apportioning blame to others "when the guard slips" was helpful and called on people to support each other in those situations.

In total, there are now 70,711 cases of the virus since the outbreak began. Deaths have remained at 2,022 after one previous death was denotified. Two previous cases of Covid-19 were denotified. 

There are currently 289 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 33 people are in intensive care receiving treatment for the virus. 

11 hospitalisations happened in the last 24 hours.

The national average 14-day incident rate stands at 109.1 per 100,000 and the positivity rate of those sent for testing now stands at 3.8%. 

There has been a 40% drop in the 14-day incident rate in the past two weeks. 

Further data released by the Department of Health shows: 

  • 124 cases are men and 128 are women 
  • 65% of cases are under 45 years of age 
  • The median age of the cases is 34 years old 

Dublin had the most cases at 88 followed by 26 in Cork. 21 cases are in Kilkenny and 16 cases are in Louth along with 16 cases in Mayo. The remaining 85 cases are spread across 20 counties. 

In Northern Ireland, 280 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed and a further 3 people have died from the virus. 

Speaking tonight at a National Public Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing, CMO Dr Tony Holohan highlighted a drop in the national worry level and drew a link with the public's behaviour which can lead to some people "dropping their guard". 

A graph published by health officials showed the national worry levels had dropped to a proportion similar to July and had now reached 6.1 on a scale from 1-10. 

Dr Holohan did warn however against people blaming each other for mistakes made with public health guidelines. The Chief Medic said that he does not agree with a "blame orientated response".

Asked about the scenes following the weekend's GAA games, where crowds welcomed the victorious Tipperary football team to Ballpyoreen, Dr Holohan said that there needed to be understanding. 

"Teams that win important matches tend to celebrate, that's not a surprise," he said.

"I think that we all have to have a certain understanding and tolerance in broad terms. 

I think that we've tipped too much into a sense of blame and trying to find the latest person who is in breach of some guideline and trying to find a lamp post to hang that person from.

I think we need to have more understanding that this is a very high standard of behaviour that the whole country has kept up.

"I think the weekend for anyone who enjoys sport, and I know that's not everybody, was a very enjoyable one. 

"I think it has helped people to get through the stay at home measures. The sporting organisations involved have done a huge job to deliver that relatively modest number of sporting activities in as safe a way as possible and I think they've done great work," he said.

Dr Holohan said that while people should "exert their own personal responsibility", they should try to avoid "tipping into blame".

There have been example of things that have happened and there's been a blame-oriented response. 

"We have to support each other to do as much as we can and accept that not each of us will be perfect all of the time."

Following on Nphet's recent worries about outbreaks in the workplaces, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said 40 outbreaks of the virus have been traced to workplaces in the last two weeks when asked to produce evidence for their concerns. Nphet added there are currently 121 active outbreaks in the workplace. 

Ahead of the festive period, Dr Holohan said the more progress is made on the spread of Covid-19 then the more options are available for easing restrictions. He said he would not draw any major conclusions from today's reported data as they consider the five-day average as a whole as it is a more stable indicator. 

"Being in the 200s is better than being in the 300s but just bear in mind that’s one day’s data and we look at something more stable like the five-day average," said Dr Holohan. 

The latest figures mean case numbers reported have been under 400 for the last six days. 

A small change in public behaviours could cause "a challenge in a very quick turnaround" to the number of Covid-19 cases though, Dr Holohan said. 

While describing the latest figures on their own as somewhat encouraging, Dr Holohan said that changes in the reproductive number if people congregate and mix more, could see cases grow quickly. 

He would not, however, speculate on what Nphet might advise the Government to do with regards to Ireland leaving Level 5 restrictions next week.

Dr Holohan who on Monday took part in the first meeting of Ireland's vaccine rollout task force, said that there was "hope" around ongoing progress regarding a vaccine, but said that it was still important to "stick to the basics" of public health guidelines until it is widely available.

The government is expected to announce the new regulations in place for the country after the exit from the Level 5 lockdown ahead of Christmas later this week.

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