Friday, November 05, 2021

Digital Desk Staff

Updated at 21:55

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar expects cases of Covid-19 to start dropping over the coming weeks due to vaccines and infection-acquired immunity, as a further 3,903 cases were reported in the State.

Some 463 people are in hospital with the virus, including 76 in intensive care, the Department of Health announced on Friday.

As The Irish Times reports, speaking in Galway earlier on Friday, Mr Varadkar said he is confident that the number of cases will drop in the coming weeks, but he expects it to be an issue again next winter and beyond.

“I think the situation is fragile, but it is also stable. Cases are very high and they are continuing to rise. We expect them to continue to rise over the next couple of days.”

However, he said the number of people in hospital is “relatively stable despite the increase in cases, the number of people in hospital and ICU is much the same as it was a week or two ago. And that gives us confidence that the vaccine wall is holding.”

He said that because of“ immunity from vaccines and also infection-acquired immunity we will reach a point over the next couple of weeks when cases will start falling”.

This did not mean that Covid was going away he stated.

“Pandemics never just end, they tend to just fizzle out. So I would be confident we will get through the winter and will be in a much better place again in the spring and summer.

Stark reminder

Earlier, Dr Tony Holohan the chief medical officer said: “Today we are reporting 3,903 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This is a very concerning figure and a stark reminder that this virus is highly contagious. This is not a situation any of us want to be in, but our reality remains that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Ireland has been tracking ahead of other Western European countries when it comes to this fourth wave of the pandemic.

“We are now starting to see a rise in incidence across the continent in line with our own recent experience. There is some good news in that the number of people per 1000 cases requiring hospitalisation and critical care as a result of Covid-19 infection has reduced as the average age of cases reducing and as a result of some early impact of the booster vaccination.”

He said vaccines give good protection from serious illness and hospitalisation, fully vaccinated people can still get and transmit the virus.

Dr Holohan added "However, if you are vaccinated, you are more likely than before to experience a mild form of the disease. This is the key difference between the situation we find ourselves in this winter compared to last.

"The best way we can protect ourselves and our vulnerable loved ones is, firstly, to ensure we receive a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to us, this includes booster doses.

"Secondly, we must protect ourselves from Covid-19 as best we can by layering up on all elements of the public health advice.

"These are the tools we are all so familiar with - washing hands, covering coughs, wearing masks, choosing outdoor or well-ventilated indoor activities where possible and maintaining a social distance. When planning social occasions, please keep the public health advice in mind and feel empowered to leave if you do not feel safe."

It comes as the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said booster jabs should be rolled out to every adult six months after their initial vaccination against Covid-19.

A booster programme is already under way in the Republic for healthcare workers and those over 60, with the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac) also considering extending it to people under 60 with underlying conditions.

Mr Varadkar said he believes it will be necessary to expand the programme to the wider population.

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