8 April 2020 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Michael Fisher

There has been a steady increase in the number of recorded Covid-19 cases in Co. Monaghan in the past fortnight. The official figures show that from midnight on March 31st when there were 17 cases, the number had risen to 62 by midnight on Monday April 6th. The first recorded case was on March 20th. One of the reasons the cases have increased is because the level of testing has also gone up, in community testing stations such as the Cloghan GAA centre near Castleblayney. The HSE has stressed that this drive-through facility should be accessed by appointment only.

With speculation that the public health measures such as staying at home except for exercise could be further extended beyond Easter Sunday, an expert has suggested that adding to the Covid-19 restrictions for the next week or two would bring down transmission of the virus. This might shorten the time that our economy has to stop, according to Monaghan native Professor Sam McConkey from Killeevan.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Professor McConkey, head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, suggested that “going hell for leather” in terms of restrictions for the next fortnight would help to eradicate community transmission of Covid-19. He said: “as long as there are unexplained community transmissions of the virus, that’s the real worry. If there are community transmissions, at any time that can explode into another outbreak.”

He said the public health authorities might have to consider the widespread use of surgical masks by members of the public when they were outside their homes for permitted journeys such as shopping, or the introduction of quarantine for anyone arriving into Dublin airport. Arriving passengers could be put into a hotel close to the airport and told to self isolate for a fortnight, he suggested. This would help to bring down the transmission of the virus in a robust and radical way, he said.

Professor McConkey quoted the example of China, where he said after the economy was closed off for two weeks, the number of transmissions started to drop. “I think adding more restrictions for a week or two to really bring down transmissions might shorten the time that we have this plague among us and the time that our economy is stopped. By really going hell for leather and doing all we can do for the next week or two, we can get the numbers down so there is no more community transmission of Covid-19,” he said. “We need to get unexplained community transmissions down almost to nothing before we relax and start doing everything that we’d like to do again,” he told Mary Wilson. “Those countries that acted early and prepared quickly with only essential work allowed are going to do better than those that waited for two or more weeks (before taking action),” he pointed out.

Professor Sam McConkey

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