A leading health expert has warned that Ireland cannot “relax” after a spike of 40 Covid-19 cases yesterday.
Professor Sam McConkey said the country will be at risk of a “big explosion” of Covid-19 cases as long as there is unexplained community transmission in the country.
The infectious diseases specialist with the Royal College of Surgeons said we need to get to zero cases via unexplained community transmission.
Asked if we should be worried about a rise in cases, Prof McConkey told Newstalk Breakfast: “We can’t relax. Some of us feel there’s very few deaths now and our numbers are down a lot from March and April so let’s just relax.
“I think that’s very much the wrong message. I would say that in any process like this getting the last one or two per cent of control – the last little bit – is actually the hardest.
“These last one or two per cent of case transmissions, we’ve really struggled to get this down to – where I would like to see it – zero cases of unexplained community transmission.
“We may still have some cases coming in from abroad because we’re open to let people come in in certain circumstances.
“But I’d like to see no cases of unexplained community transmission and we’re not there yet.
“And unfortunately as long as we’ve got unexplained community transmission on the island, then there will still be a risk of it going into a big explosion like we had in February and March.”
A worrying 75% of coronavirus cases reported yesterday were among patients under 45 years of age, with a median age of 33 years.
McConkey warned that this is similar to outbreaks early on in the pandemic and said we don’t want to see the virus “go wild” in older people.
He said: “This is again very similar to what we had in February and March before we’d large numbers of elderly people getting it who sadly passed away from it.
“This is the grumbling of a virus among young healthy people who are often minimally symptomatic.
“This risk is that then inevitably they meet with their parents and grandparents and older people and then in two or four weeks time, it all goes wild in older people.”
He urged people to maintain Covid-19 public health guidelines – distancing, hand hygiene and using face coverings.