Ireland may have reached peak of Omicron wave

Ireland may have reached peak of Omicron wave

Pictured is HSE CEO Paul Reid speaking to media in Dr Steevens Hospital at the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland

Ireland may have reached the peak of the Omicron variant as the number of Covid-19 cases continue to slowly decline, but there are differing views on the easing of current restrictions. 

It comes after the Tánaiste said he hopes that some restrictions might be lifted soon

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said that there are “positive signs" that would suggest we have already hit the peak of Omicron.

Over the weekend, 34,923 new cases of Covid-19 were identified through PCR or Antigen testing while last weekend saw 47,506 identified through PCR testing alone.

Speaking this morning, Professor of immunology at Maynooth University, Paul Moynagh said it seemed as though the Omicron wave had peaked, but it was “difficult to be completely sure”.

He noted that the positivity rate has been very high but when looking at numbers over the last few days, he said it "certainly seems they've peaked" and are now decreasing.

"If you look at these waves, they tend to be symmetrical, we don't really know why," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.

So, with Omicron, the incline was very, very steep, so we probably expect the decline to be something similar and reflect that steep incline.

When asked if it was time to start the gradual lifting of restrictions, Prof Moynagh said he thought it “probably” was.

However, the World Health Organisation’s special convoy on Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro has cautioned that restrictions on hospitality should not be eased because the sector is facing difficulty.

Any decisions should be made on the basis of the health risk.

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Nabarro said that restrictions needed to be “constantly assessed” and the data reviewed.

He also warned that the Government should not say that there was “never” going to be a return to restrictions when they were eventually eased.

If a cluster ever built up or there was a surge in cases then the Government should be ready to move swiftly.

Ireland should “stick with what you’re doing” as the measures to date have shown that the country was working well with the “trade-offs” made to date.

Dr Nabarro also urged that restrictions not be eased too quickly. The balance of risk would need to be weighed and hospital and ICU numbers monitored.

While he acknowledged that another variant could develop, he thought it unlikely to be more deadly, but it could be more transmissible.

It was too early to say if a fourth dose of the vaccine would be necessary, he said.

Dr Nabarro also cautioned all governments and health services to ensure there would be capacity to cope with “any nasty surge”, it would be wise to plan for all eventualities and be prepared to implement some local restrictions if there was a surge in a specific geographic area.

Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) are expected to meet on Thursday.

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