BY EMMA CONNOLLY
AND JACKIE KEOGH
IT’S inconceivable to anyone working in health care why people would want to meet up with anyone right now.
That’s according to Dr Jason van der Velde, of West Cork Rapid Response, who also works on the frontline in CUH which is dealing with a massive surge of Covid-19 cases.
Dr Jason was among the first to be vaccinated against the virus at the hospital on Wednesday, just hours before the government announced stricter lockdown measures until January 31st, and the delayed opening of schools until January 11th.
And while the vaccine was a ‘light at the end of the tunnel,’ he said the situation in CUH is as bad as it was during the first wave and he appealed to the public to take responsibility for their actions.
‘Gatherings around Christmas have been instrumental in the spread of the virus. The hospital is genuinely affected. We’re at full tilt,’ he said.
‘The vaccines are bringing hope, but we still have the second half of this marathon to run,’ he said.
There is evidence that community transmission of Covid-19 in West Cork is growing at an alarming rate.
Cork county had 63 confirmed cases on Monday, but that figure rose dramatically to 203 on Tuesday night, with a greater number of cases likely to follow.
The impact can be seen in some West Cork towns where some businesses shut up shop for 10 days while the owners and staff self-isolated in accordance with Covid-19 guidelines.
In Bantry, one business owner expressed concern that the virus is ‘spreading like wildfire’ and it’s believed that 20 cases have been linked to a single West Cork pub on Christmas Eve.
A GP at a Kinsale practice tweeted: ‘After a busy day working with Southdoc, it is clear that we are seeing community spread of Covid in our area, across all age groups. Limiting indoor social contacts, hand washing and mask wearing all work and are more important than ever now.’
Before the spike in the figures on Tuesday, the most recent 14-day incidence rate – which covers the period from December 8th to December 21st – for the Bandon and Kinsale electoral area was 43.
The number of confirmed cases in the Skibbereen electoral area, before Tuesday, was six, while the Bantry electoral area’s 14-day incidence rate was seven.
The sharp increase in hospitalisations and the steep rise in the positivity rates in community testing was, according to the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, ‘an indication that the virus is increasing its foothold out in our communities.’
Public representatives have expressed concern about the number of people who are ignoring the contract tracing systems and the requirement to have a test.
Meanwhile, a proposed schedule for the roll out of the vaccine to the most vulnerable – those aged over 65 and in care homes in West Cork – is expected to commence on January 12th.