A round-up of NPHET’s press briefing at the Department of Health this evening.
PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS this evening confirmed a further 400 cases of Covid-19 and seven additional deaths in Ireland.
This evening’s figures mean that there has now been a total of 239,723 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, along with 4,737 deaths.
The deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn led tonight’s NPHET briefing, alongside the chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan, virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun and Chief Executive of the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) Dr Lorraine Nolan.
Here’s what was discussed at this evening’s briefing.
- New guidance for fully vaccinated healthcare workers who are close contacts of a positive Covid-19 case.
NPHET has endorsed guidance to allow full vaccinated healthcare workers to no longer restrict their movements if they are identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case.
Dr Glynn said NPHET has asked the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to review similar guidance for fully vaccinated members of the public down the line.
He said there is an update expected on this in two weeks.
Dr Glynn said the question of evolving guidance for people who have been fully vaccinated will be looked at again in a few weeks.
Rare blood clots and AstraZeneca vaccine
- No update yet on potential changes AstraZeneca recommendations following NIAC meeting.
Ireland’s medicines regulator confirmed this evening it is investigating the first potential case of a very rare blood clot in someone who received the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr Glynn said there is “no significant update” on the recommendations around the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ireland.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is meeting today and tomorrow to assess if new guidelines around the vaccine should be introduced here. Dr Glynn said these discussions are continuing and the deliberations “will go on for some time”.
Dr Nolan from the HPRA said it received into its database one case of “special interest” describing an unusual type of clot in someone who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“It obviously will receive our utmost priority,” Nolan said.
She said the HPRA is following up to “get a clearer clinical picture” of the situation.
She said it can’t be confirmed yet whether it follows the exact specifications of the rare clots incidents linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine in other countries.
She said reports that the patient in questions has been treated are “very promising”.
Dr Nolan reiterated the importance of watching out for symptoms after receiving this vaccine and the situation is still evolving.
Variants of concern
- Updates on the number of cases identified in Ireland from different variants of concern.
Dr de Gascun said there have been 19 cases of the P1 variant (Brazilian) and 43 cases of B1351 (South African) identified in Ireland.
He said the majority of these cases are associated with contacts of known cases.
However, he said there have been “some cases of community transmission still under investigation” with no obvious link to foreign travel.
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He said there is concern that these variant case numbers are continuing to rise.
There have been 16 cases of the B1525 variant (Nigeria), five cases of B1526 (New York) and 14 cases of the P2 variant which is also linked to Brazil.
- Overall, the epidemiological situation in Ireland remains stable at the moment.
Professor Philip Nolan said the situation is “stable, potentially improving” at the moment, but remains uncertain “particularly” because of the recent bank holiday weekend.
However, he said any cases acquired over the weekend should be appearing by now which is not reflected in today’s stable case numbers.
He said there is reason for positivity given there hasn’t been a noticeable increase following St Patrick’s Day three weeks ago.
He said similar stability is hoped to be seen in the weeks after Easter but he said it’s “always dangerous to be reassured about the future”.
He said the continued stability indicates a very high level of responsibility to have a limited social life and “appropriate enjoyment without running the risk of transmitting the virus”.
Professor Nolan added that case numbers are still high and “it’s easy to go quickly in the wrong direction”.
Dr Glynn said: “Sitting here just looking at the data, it looks like it’s all going in the right direction, but I think unfortunately we need to give it another week.