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Reality check as report warns lockdown may have been lifted too soon

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Dr Ronan Glynn

Dr Ronan Glynn

Colin Keegan

Dr Ronan Glynn

Festive revelry will kick off across the country this weekend amid concern Ireland may have lifted lockdown too soon and could have to consider an extended school break in January.

The reality check was delivered in a report from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) yesterday, saying the risk of Covid-19 infection this Christmas is high.

The European experts suggest an extension of "school holidays" or a time of distance learning could be considered after Christmas.

It comes as six more deaths and 265 cases of the virus were recorded here yesterday.

A technical issue which had delayed uploading of lab results to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been resolved. It led to a reduced number of cases reported in recent days.

Although shops resumed business here on Tuesday and restaurants and gastropubs opened their doors yesterday, the ECDC told member states that lifting restrictions early may lead to a faster rise in infection.

Stronger

Lifting lockdowns on December 21 may cause a rise in hospitalisations in early January, but removing them before December 7 may lead to an increase even by Christmas eve.

The earlier they are lifted, the faster the cases, hospitalisations and deaths rise, it said.

Ireland's 14-day incidence at 78.3 per 100,000 puts it in a stronger place than most other European countries.

Yesterday's figures show a fall in the number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital, down to 232 from 239.

The number in intensive care is down from 32 to 27.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: "If you are heading out this weekend, please make every effort to keep safe.

"Plan ahead, meet outside where possible and keep your contacts to a minimum.

"Avoid crowded or poorly ventilated spaces and leave if your environment doesn't feel safe."

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "We are now entering an important phase in our collective efforts to suppress spread of the virus.

We have made significant progress and reduced transmission in our homes and communities, but it will take a consistent individual effort from everyone to keep up that momentum in coming weeks.

"I urge you to use the public health advice on regular handwashing, social distancing and wearing of face coverings to safeguard you and your family from the devastating impact this virus can have, especially on our most vulnerable people."


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