Staycations could resume with customers outdoors in bars and restaurants and with physical distancing indoors if Covid-19 is controlled well in the next three months, a leading infectious disease consultant said yesterday.
Prof Sam McConkey, infectious disease consultant in Beaumont Hospital, said: I am cautiously optimistic that education and construction will be able to open completely with detailed sector-specific adjustments to how things are done safely.
Im also cautiously optimistic that if the virus is controlled well in the next three months, domestic tourism, and bars and restaurants could open, certainly for outdoor dining, and for socially spaced indoor dining and drinking, similar to summer of 2020.
He was speaking one year after the first confirmed case of the virus in the Republic and days after the Government launched its new revised plan for managing the virus, Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead.
Prof McConkey said testing for the virus before and after travel, and some travel-related quarantine to and from some countries is here to stay,
There is a need for tight control of all transmission of Covid-19, he said.
Cases of the virus remain high and it is unclear what impact the new UK variant will have on spread when schools begin a phased reopening next week.
However, there are strong early signals vaccines are reducing infection in nursing homes and hospitals as well as deaths.
A further 29 Covid-19 related deaths were reported yesterday, bringing the toll to 4,300. The victims ranged in age from 27 to 95.
A further 776 newly diagnosed cases were announced pushing the number of infections to 218,251 since the pandemic began.
There was a further drop in Covid-19 patients in hospital to 574 although another 24 were admitted in the previous 24 hours. The number of patients in intensive care remains high at 136.
Among yesterdays new cases, 278 were in Dublin, 69 in Galway, 57 in Meath, 52 in Kildare and 48 in Donegal. The remaining 272 cases were spread across all other counties.
Meanwhile, it is estimated around 40,000 people who are at very high risk of severe disease will be offered vaccination after being moved up the priority list.
However, identifying all the people in this group is likely to pose difficulties.
HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said they are looking at identifying these patients from renal centres, oncology centres, and also from the medical card system.
I dont see that happening this coming week because you have to collate the names and the census first but certainly, wed be aiming to start either the end of next week or the beginning of the following week.
However, Louth GP Dr Ruairi Hanley said he has written to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly saying it can only work by patients self identifying and registering online.
There are so many different diseases, and some patients may infrequently attend GP because they attend outpatient clinics, he said.
“Others will have been only recently diagnosed and people who are morbidly obese may not have attended a GP in years. Thus their weight would not be recorded.
It is frankly impossible and can only work by patients self identifying and registering online. This is why we need mass vaccination centres. The HSE needs to get up a registration portal online for chronic disease patients.
As of Tuesday, 238,841 people had received a first dose and 134,439 were fully vaccinated.
Nursing Homes Ireland welcomed the substantial reduction in the number of Covid-positive cases for nursing homes.
Chief executive Tadhg Daly said: We concur with public health statements that a cautious approach must be adopted for the reopening of nursing homes for in-person visits and the matter must be given careful consideration.
The virus remains very prevalent within communities and easing of visiting restrictions will bring increased movement of people in and out of nursing homes.
We believe the present footing does require easing of visitor restrictions to be to the fore within public health considerations.
Irish Independent