A LEADING public health specialist has warned that people need to ‘knuckle down’ if Donegal is to get out of Covid-19 lockdown in December.
Donegal, Derry and Strabane continue to top the 7-day lists although cases numbers have been falling for much of the past three weeks.
Dr Anthony Breslin, Specialist in Public Health Medicine for the North West, expressed concern at the high number of positive cases in Donegal.
“We’re ranked one of the highest in the country, similar to Dublin, and people need to knuckle down on social distancing, the wearing of face marks and washing hands.
“Things are complicated here by the fact that there’s a high rate in Northern Ireland and people work and attend schools on both sides of the border,” he said.
“Cases are particularly high in Letterkenny because of its high population and also in the Buncrana, Carndonagh and Lifford-Stranorlar areas because of cross border traffic.
“However, we can see from the schools, where parents, pupils and staff have shown us, that doing the basics allows them to get on with normal activity. If schools can control Covid why can’t the general population do the same? That’s what we need to push,” Dr Breslin said.
He noted that wakes, birthday parties and other social gatherings continue to be major sources for outbreaks of the virus in Donegal.
“When people attend wakes they are shaking hands, not observing social distancing or wearing face coverings. It’s bad enough for families to have to deal with the death of their loved one but we don’t what that to lead to an outbreak either and unfortunately this has happened. Please don’t go to wakes,” he said.
Dr Breslin said that people should not be meeting up expect in very restricted circumstances.
“We know that people are having things like 50th birthday parties and it’s not young people. We don’t know the long-term consequences of the infection and people need to watch themselves,” Dr Breslin said.
“The basics work. They’re a pain and they’re awkward at times, but they do work, and we’re going to have to be doing this for the next 18 months.
“If a six year old kid can do it, why can’t the rest of us,” Dr Breslin asked
Twice national average
Meanwhile, the 14-day Covid incidence rate in Donegal, at 269.5 per 100,000, is now more than twice the national average of 120.4 per 100,000.
Today, Donegal recorded 11 new confirmed cases.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said they were seeing a number of things of concern.
“There are examples of small numbers of people congregating for social purposes and simply ignoring the important public health messages. They are putting our collective progress at risk,” Dr Holohan said.