Three-month plan needed to manage current Covid wave, says NPHET official
"We need to be thinking, as a society, about the next three months, and as individuals about what we can do safely."
Ireland requires at least a three-month plan to tackle the current wave of Covid-19 in the country as the new Omicron variant looms.
That's the viewpoint of Cillian De Gascun, Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory and member of the National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET), as outlined on Sunday afternoon.
"From the point of view of a general surveillance 'look and see', we are going back to the first of November," he said.
Asked if this was a case of "closing the stable door after the horse has departed", De Gascun noted that the key element in NPHET's approach is to reduce the risk of importation and imported cases.
"We may not capture every imported case," De Gascun explained. "But it's still far better to import only a hundred cases than to import a thousand cases."
De Gascun said that protective measures such as pre-travel PCR testing and post-travel quarantine represent "really important" steps amidst the current wave, adding that the virus is "more likely more widespread than it has been" previously.
Later, De Gascun stated that "we need to operate on the basis that this could change the game dramatically" particularly in terms of the Irish healthcare system.
De Gascun posited that concrete data on the Omicron variant should be available in two to four weeks.
In terms of an overall timeline of the present situation, he indicated that the next three months are of paramount importance for the general public.
"Ultimately, what we need to be thinking about – setting aside Omicron – what we need to be thinking about is the next three months; December, January, February – that's our winter," said De Gascun.
"Before we ever had a pandemic, our winters really put pressure on the healthcare system – we didn't have any influenza last year, we didn't have any RSV last year, we didn't have any of the other respiratory viruses circulating last year – they are coming back.
"Rather than looking at the short term elements in relation to Christmas or whatever it might be, we need to be thinking, as a society, about the next three months, and as individuals about what we can do safely over the next three months."
On Sunday, 3,735 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland by the Department of Health.
As of Sunday morning, 566 patients are hospitalised in relation to the virus, of which 117 are in ICU.
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