Case numbers in Donegal are remaining stubborn

THE first case of the new Omicron variant in Ireland is no surprise , a leading public health specialist has cautioned.
Dr Anthony Breslin, Director of Public Health, HSE North West, was speaking to the Donegal News yesterday as NPHET confirmed the first case of the new mutation has been detected in Ireland.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has designated the latest strain of Covid-19 as a concern.
Dr Breslin said case numbers in Donegal are remaining stubborn, emanating from community transmission.
“Numbers in Donegal are running into the hundreds, occasionally up to the two hundreds and the overall rate is 1,000 per 100,000 which is high but other parts of the country have caught up too, unfortunately. The majority of cases are in the community, there are some small cases in HSE residential and private facilities.
“The Omicron variant is not a surprise. The virus will mutate and change with a lot of transmission.”
Dr Breslin said he does not want to see a variant that does not have a good response to the Covid-19 vaccine. He said greater number of infections will lead to more mutations. Dr Breslin urged people who have still not received the vaccine or the booster injection to reconsider. Walk-in clinics are being held and people can also make an appointment.
“Some people might say they got Covid last year and it was mild, but it’s not a simple situation. The booster vaccine programme is helping. We are seeing a decrease in the number of people getting a serious case of the infection, instead it is mild and it is the same in the north.
“We would urge people who aren’t vaccinated to get the vaccine and for those who are eligible for the booster vaccine to take it up. The booster vaccine is working in helping to prevent serious illness and hospital cases.”
While schools are not presenting transmission rates as such, Dr Breslin said social settings were of concern.
“People are going out and about when they have symptoms and that is a risk. We have had people who have taken a test and gone to work before finding out if the test is positive or negative. And, in some positive cases they have gone on to work.
“Don’t go to high-risk situations such as crowded rooms, don’t go to work or anywhere if you have symptoms. Get a test and wait for the results. If the test result is positive, please take the appropriate action and self-isolate.”
Dr Breslin said he was not calling on people to stop socialising but to apply common sense to a situation.
“If people are sick I am urging them not to go out. That is difficult to hear given the time of year as people will have organised a party, or are going to a wedding and have their hair appointments made and so on, but please cancel those plans.”
He said he appreciated the last 21 months have had a profound impact on many people.
“We know this is having a substantial impact on people’s lives and we want to get back to some kind of normality. We are where we are. We hope people will temper or modify their behaviour. We knew this was going to be long-term.
“There are probably people who are fed up and angry. There is no one thing that can solve this. Get the vaccine, if you’re unwell don’t socialise and get tested and wear a face covering.”

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