Sunday, September 19, 2021

Digital Desk Staff

Updated: 2pm

Covid-19 case numbers are balanced on a “knife edge”, according to a leading public health expert.

DCU Professor of Health Systems Anthony Staines said the R (reproductive) number is just under one, and it could go either way.

Prof Staines’ comments come as 1,224 new cases of the virus were confirmed by the Department of Health on Sunday afternoon. As of 8am this morning there are 278 people in hospital with Covid, 63 of whom are being treated in ICU.

Professor Staines said the strong vaccination uptake is helping control cases, but they need to be tracked properly.

“There has been a phenomenal uptake of the vaccine among every age group, particularly recently among young people and people in secondary school.

“That is fantastic and is probably having a huge impact on holding case numbers down, but there isn’t still a proper functioning tracking system for cases,” Prof Staines said.

The head of Ireland's vaccine taskforce Professor Brian MacCraith also praised the high uptake rate among young people as another milestone was reached in the vaccination rollout.

Over 90 per cent of people over the age of 16 are now fully vaccinated while 93 per cent of adults have received at least one dose.

Walk-in vaccination clinics are open once again this weekend for adults and children over the age of 12.

Pop-up vaccine centres

Children aged between 12 and 15 years must be accompanied by a parent or guardian when attending a clinic.

Details of where and when the walk-in clinics are operating can be found here.

It was confirmed yesterday that pop-up vaccination centres will open across many college campuses when students return this month.

Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said the initiative is to make it “as easy as possible” for students and staff to get vaccinated against Covid.

He said he hopes the college campaign will further help efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Speaking to Newstalk, Prof Staines added it is a good idea having vaccine centres on site at universities and colleges.

“I teach in DCU and while many students may be fully vaccinated, others may have got a first dose and this will make it easier for them to get a second dose,” he said.

For those who were maybe hesitant or unsure about getting a vaccine it is another chance for them to get it as well, he added.

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