Tony Holohan and Stephen Donnelly to enter talks on Donegal Covid crisis

Tony Holohan and Stephen Donnelly to enter talks on Donegal Covid crisis

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Tony Holohan and Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly will meet Donegal politicians later today to discuss the high number of Covid cases in the county.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Tony Holohan and Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly will meet Donegal politicians later today to discuss the high number of Covid cases in the county.

Concerns were raised at a briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Friday, where public health officials said the prevalence of Covid-19 in Donegal is being driven by “persistent and reasonably widespread non-compliance” with restrictions.

Deputy CMO, Dr Ronan Glynn, said the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population in Donegal is more than double the national rate.

The incidence rate in Donegal is 293.4 per 100,000 population, compared to the national rate of 127.3 per 100,000, he said.

Local TDs welcomed the meeting between public health officials and Donegal politicians which will take place Saturday evening at 6pm.

In the Milford area of Donegal, however, the incidence is 675 per 100,000 and in Letterkenny is almost 640 per 100,000, he added.

“At the moment it doesn't appear that workplaces are an acute driver and unfortunately what’s being reported is persistent and reasonably widespread non-compliance with basic measures,” Dr Glynn said.

Prof Philip Nolan, chairman of the Irish Epidemiological Advisory Modelling Group, said “local engagement” by health officials is needed to suppress the virus in the county.

Prof Nolan said continuing to put Donegal into Level 5 lockdown would not be the first step the State would take.

“We are going to see outbreaks... Parts of our country find it more difficult to suppress the disease like in Donegal,” he told RTÉ Radio One on Saturday.

“The first step is local engagement and community engagement. There is always the possibility a regional approach may have to be taken in the future to contain the virus.

“We are not at that point yet.” 

‘Best week ever’ for vaccine rollout 

Meanwhile HSE chief, Paul Reid, has said work is underway on the 27 version of the national vaccination plan.

If approved by the Department of Health on Monday, 26,000 vaccines of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine will be administered for the first time ever in Ireland.

The J&J jab will primarily prioritise vulnerable people, including those who are homeless and those living with addiction issues.

Mr Reid said the introduction of the one-shot vaccine will contribute to what is expected to be the "best week ever" in terms of the rollout of vaccinations.

The HSE expects between 220,000 to 240,000 vaccinations will be administered next week.

For those aged 55-59, the online vaccine portal will go live for vaccine registrations on Tuesday and will continue down through the ages, according to the HSE.

The average call time is about two weeks from when a patient registers to being called for a vaccination.

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