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Second wave is a real threat if youth keep flouting rules, says Holohan

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Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Young people who are flouting rules and reverting to almost "pre-Covid" behaviour are becoming a risk and may lead to a resurgence of the virus, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned yesterday.

He said too many of the 15-34 year age group are ignoring anti-coronavirus measures and mixing together in activities such as house parties.

He did not want to point the finger of blame and understood their frustrations as normal social outlets like sport and pubs were denied to them and if they pick up the virus - are at low risk of being badly affected. But they are in danger of passing it on to somebody vulnerable who could end up very ill.

Responsibility

If the country is to get a resurgence of the virus it could be linked to people behaving as if certain restrictions to reduce the risk of the virus were also shelved.

He was speaking as figures showed that in the last 14 days one third of new confirmed cases are in the under 35s.

"This is not a disease that solely affects older people. No one is immune and everyone is responsible for limiting the spread," he warned.

There were two more deaths from the virus yesterday, bringing the toll to 1,717. A further four people were diagnosed with the infection, pushing the total so far who picked it up to 25,383.

Questioned on the 183,000 new cases of the virus reported by the World Health Organisation - the most so far in a single day - he said there is a risk of people travelling here from a high incidence country and bringing it to a country where it is low. The epicentre of the virus has now moved from Europe, mostly to the Americas.

He again appealed to people here not to travel abroad for a holiday and said visitors from abroad should not make non-essential trips here. If there is more travel there will be more cases of the virus here, he said,

There were 10 new cases linked to travel over 10 days and it's "hidden" changes in behaviour that authorities need to be alert to prevent a spiral in infection.

The next step here is to draw up a plan for how public health authorities here will respond if there is a flare-up of the virus as the country re-opens.

"It won't be the same set of measures" as imposed during lockdown, he said.

They will be more targeted and there is a lot more international guidance on what to do.

The number of people wearing face coverings has increased but it is still at 41pc and "we need to do a lot better," he added.

Questioned on the easing of measures to allow a mass gathering of 50 people indoors from next week he said it is one of the areas that there needs to a lot of caution around.

The direction applies to church services and events like weddings. All countries are careful about the numbers allowed in mass gatherings indoors and Ireland was in the mid-range with proposals to extend it to 100 from July.

The risks involved are not just focused on the setting but also has to take into account other factors such as how a person travelled to a place such as whether they used public transport.

Meanwhile, nine children under five and seven aged five to 14 were among those who picked up to virus over two weeks.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said parents can apply a combination of measures as much as practicable, including having children play outdoors, limiting groups and the time they are playing.

Separately, a poll carried out by the Department of Health found that the majority - some 56pc of adults - feel that the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

Alone, the organisation which supports older people, released a Health and Wellbeing plan, aimed at addressing key issues which continue to affect the health and wellbeing of older people across the country as we move into the later stages of the Covid-19 roadmap.

Fears

The plan is made up of a series of projects which promote social interaction, activities, fitness and positive mental and physical health practices for older people.

The organisation is concerned older people may lack the confidence to reintegrate themselves into society in the coming weeks and months due to fears of contracting the virus.

Alone's National Support Line has received a number of calls from older people who say that they do not feel confident going outside. This is because they are anxious that people have become more relaxed about safety measures.

Many callers feel nervous leaving the house in the coming weeks, as they worry that they aren't getting enough space while walking.