SOME 7,333 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland today – with Taoiseach Micheal Martin saying the worst of the pandemic “may very well be” still ahead of us.
The Department of Health has also confirmed eight more cases of the Omicron variant, bringing the total number of cases that have been identified as a result of whole genome sequencing to 18, or 35% of confirmed cases in Ireland.
Numbers in intensive care have increased since yesterday with 107 in intensive care and 105 in intensive care yesterday.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “Today we report 8 more cases of the Omicron variant, confirmed by whole genome sequencing, bringing the total confirmed in Ireland to 18.
“Possible Omicron cases can be identified by the number of PCR results with ‘S gene target failure’ – just like we did when the alpha variant emerged a year ago. Using this methodology, we estimate 11% of cases are now due to the Omicron variant, an increase from less than 1% just a week ago.
“While the evidence for the severity of the disease and immune evasion is still emerging, it is clear that this variant is more transmissible. We hope for the best while preparing for the worst.
“Over the next few days and weeks, global health authorities will learn more about this variant and the risks it poses. In the meantime, we continue to have confidence in the basic measures to reduce transmission. ”
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Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said death cannot “become a measure” and preventing serious illness is still the top priority as the worst of the pandemic “may very well be” still ahead of us.
The boss of Fianna Fail said that “it is never wishful thinking” to hope that the Omicron variant will not be as devastating as expected and “there is no fatality”.
It comes as tens of thousands of people could lose their jobs just days before Christmas after the government imposed an 8 p.m. curfew on pubs, restaurants, cinemas and concerts from Monday to January 30 in less.
Outdoor events, such as horse racing festivals and rugby matches, which are due to take place during the holidays have also been cut in half as the government seeks to drastically reduce socialization in an effort to slow down the new strain.
UNDER ‘CONSTANT REVISION’
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor show, Micheál Martin said the latest Covid-19 restrictions will be constantly reviewed as the Omicron variant spreads across the country.
When asked if he thinks the worst of the pandemic is yet ahead of us, he replied: “It could very well be. Certainly, it is this question of severity that is unknown and the data is not all. just not there. “
He said two years later “death has become a measure” and preventing it should be the top priority.
Martin said: “I have noticed that the language of what we are almost tolerating now has slipped and these are very difficult questions, but for me it is still about preventing death and preventing serious illness.”
He said the tragic loss of two of his children Ruairí and Léana changed him as a person.
The Taoiseach said: “I think when Ruairí died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in the first year there was a lot of anxiety after that. Your certainties are a bit removed from life.
“You are full of optimism as a young person, something like that hits you, life is no longer full of those certainties and it makes you a more anxious parent but you have to try to face it, you live with that.
“The people who came to our aid or gathered around us when Léana passed away, the family members were fantastic. The people around us were fantastic and they took us through what was a terrible trauma in the loss of Léana and Ruairí and people got hold of us through that.
“We all have personal experiences in life, it makes sense, I think, of the end when death occurs in a family, the devastation that occurs in a family.
“At any age when a person dies it’s a huge void in the family and in many ways that’s what Christmas is, family coming together again.”
BELIEVING IN ANTIGEN TEST
He also said antigen testing should be done more systematically and that he was an “early believer” in testing despite opposition from NPHET.
He said: “They’ve had a real problem with this for too long in my opinion and we had a disagreement about it and I was an older supporter of antigen testing.
“Public health has estimated that it might be more damaging for people to think they are free and clear if they get a clear antigen test, but a positive antigen test is a very positive thing.”
However, although he advocated for a “culture of antigen testing”, he refused to subsidize the tests and said “I am not in favor of freely distributing them widely.”
About 100,000 antigen tests are currently distributed free of charge for close contacts.
Mr Martin said it will take time to understand the full impact of the Omicron variant and the government is eager to see how the situation evolves.
He said: “Real damage will have to be done if we don’t intervene.
“The combination of behavior and boosters will be important in reducing the impact of this. That is the goal and that is why we are acting early.”
Take the basic steps to protect yourself and your loved ones from infections:
- Practice social distancing
- Work from home, if possible
- Avoid the crowds
- Ensure that indoor spaces and public transport are ventilated (windows open)
- Hand and respiratory hygiene
- Use face masks
- Stay home and isolate yourself if you experience symptoms