People are being urged to exercise extreme caution this bank holiday weekend to halt the spread of Covid-19.
It comes as 85 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the Republic yesterday, with the National Public Health Emergency Team saying tonight’s figures will be crucial in assessing if further action is needed.
It says it is “very concerned” and on standby to meet later, should the figures tonight go in the wrong direction.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says the next couple of days will be critical: “It may be a sign of something more significant, and we won’t know that for the coming days, but in the meantime, as we go into a bank holiday weekend, it’s really important that people remember the basic messages.
“At times I think people think that this is all over, that they don’t need to apply those to themselves and that maybe someone else will get sick – none of us are immune from this, and we need to treat everybody that we come into contact with as potentially infectious.”
At least 18 of the newest cases are from a cluster at a dog food factory in Co Kildare, which has been closed for the past week.
Dr Glynn is pleading with people to take the risk seriously: “Going into a bank holiday weekend, I’m pleading with people to act in the context of a global context, and act in the context of 85 cases in Ireland.”
“We do know what works and we do know what can make sure that we don’t have higher cases in a week’s time – that’s what every individual does this weekend.”
Another medical expert is urging people not to go on holidays – even within Ireland – until the virus is brought under control.
DCU health professor Anthony Staines says people should not leave their own areas: “We want to try and keep this infection confined and some of these cases are being driven by people going on holidays, and we really need to say to everybody ‘stay where you are’ until we bring this under control.”
The World Health Organisation is warning young people they are at risk of dying from Covid-19, saying some spikes in cases in Europe are due to young people becoming complacent.
It comes as lockdown restrictions have been tightened in parts of northern England – including the whole of Greater Manchester – because of a rise in coronavirus cases.
The total tally of cases worldwide has reached 17.3 million, while 673,000 people have died.