Will it be different this Christmas?

There’s been a persistent rumble that suggests that further lockdowns are inevitable.

Given the pressure on hospitals right now and the large amount of daily case numbers of Covid-19, it really hasn’t looked good over the last few weeks.

However, despite the fact some things seem to remind us of this time last year, things are not the same. It’s good to see that the case numbers this week have started to decline. They are now going in the right direction which tallies with data from NPHET which suggests that people are changing their behaviour following the recent spike in cases.

This week Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “Our latest data from Amárach is showing that almost 57 per cent of people are reducing the number of people they plan to meet between now and Christmas and 45 per cent have cancelled plans.

“None of this is easy, particularly at this time of year. However, the data above shows that people are making a concerted effort to reduce their risk. If we can keep this going, it will have a positive impact on disease transmission,” he added.

On Tuesday the Department of Health has confirmed 3,666 new cases of Covid-19 as the CMO said that people appear to be reducing their contacts. There were 5,634 new cases reported on Monday although some of those were due to a backlog.

Also on Tuesday Dr Holohan briefed opposition health spokespeople that he does not expect NPHET to recommend further restrictions this week.

There was also a big change in hospitalisation levels on Tuesday to 594. That’s a drop of 88 over the previous 48 hours. The biggest difference with last year is that so many people are now vaccinated. According to the European Commission, we have the highest vaccination rate in Europe at 93 per cent which has kept our death rate pretty low. This means that the response of the Government this time will be different, according to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says the Government wants to avoid more restrictions. “We certainly can’t rule out the re-introduction of new restrictions over the course fo the next couple of weeks but we do want to avoid that. In the last number of days we have seen the positivity rate starting to level off. We’d like to give it another week or two to see how things go.

“We will as a Government seek to avoid re-imposing extreme restrictions if we can at all.”

Yesterday there were no PCR tests available in 18 counties including Cork.

Unfortunately this means we can’t be aware of the true number of positive cases in Ireland at the moment.