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I’m all for optimism, but fingers crossed… January 14, 2022

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Not sure the government is being entirely sensible in the latest measures regarding isolation periods for Covid-19. It’s not that the measure at some point in the near future might not be warranted – in fact almost certainly they will be, and with some good luck sooner rather than later. But as always with the government handling of this pandemic there is the sense that having arrived at a stable situation they’re all too willing to change that. Or put it another way. So far so good with schools. People can, granted with an 8pm restriction, go to pubs. Workplaces are accessible, shops, cinemas likewise. Life isn’t normal – but it is far from a lockdown. One key factor that can’t be ignored is the reality that with so many working from home a large number of interactions that would otherwise take place are not happening, but this is sensible in the context of protecting health services.

Omicron, thankfully, is leading to less numbers in ICUs, by a considerable degree, than some projections feared. Hospital stays appear to be shorter and although anything that has people wind up in hospital is serious the variant appears to be more susceptible to treatments with those in that situation staying a shorter time. As it stands hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. But, there’s no absolute clarity as to whether the peak of infections has been arrived at. There’s some indications that may be now, or perhaps a week or two out. And the danger is that all this may add to the mix, that it may make some less careful because perceptions change, that – of course – reducing isolation periods will have more people who are infectious out and about.

Which means reducing isolation times carries quite some risk. As the Examiner reported last night:

On the easing of close contact rules, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly admitted there was a certain level of risk.

“Undoubtedly, if we relax the rules on close contacts it does add an element of risk, but I think what we’re really seeing now is an endorsement of the booster campaign and an endorsement of the national effort,” he said.

“Before Christmas, I asked for an all-hands-on-deck approach right across the healthcare community and people stepped up in an incredible way.

“Our general practice, the practice nurses, doctors, our pharmacies, and the amazing people working in our vaccine centres – they stopped an awful lot of the work they were doing, they vaccinated so many people, I think we’re second in Europe at the moment,” he said.

And Micheál Martin had to admit (as noted in the SBP):

he accepted that the European Centre for Disease Control had warned that the changes to close contact rules were “not evidence based”.

But he said that this had to be balanced with the pressures that were on the health system and employers due to staff having to stay out of work under the previous close contact rules.

“You also have to factor in Ireland’s high level of vaccination compared to other countries, particularly in terms of our high level of booster vaccines, which is much higher than other countries,” he said.

That vaccine wall has held, no doubt about it. But it’s not impermeable. As the ever reliable Rachel Lavin notes in an SBP piece from Sunday there’s still a necessity for caution, watchful waiting, as it were:

“There’s a huge backlog, with a number of delayed diagnoses and exhausted healthcare professionals who are now facing staff shortages,” Dr Oisin O’Connell, a respiratory consultant at the Bon Secours hospital in Cork said.

When it comes to hopes of moving past the peak and reopening society, O’Connell is cautious.

“At the moment, we need to wait for the plateau of the current wave to occur,” he said. “It’s too early to tell. We need to wait and see how our hospitals cope.”

There’s also – as mentioned in comments here – the issue of long Covid from Omicron. The data on that is spotty, given the novelty of the variant but it seems reasonable to suggest that from previous variants this will be an issue of some consequence. It’s too early to tell.



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