A REMOTE Irish island off the coast of Co. Mayo is experiencing a worrying surge in Covid-19 cases after effectively staying virus-free for six months.
Achill Island, which has a population of around 2,700 people, survived the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak with little bother, failing to record a single case since early April.
But after a sudden rise in cases in recent weeks, a local GP has warned residents that they must adhere to public health guidelines strictly in order to prevent the virus from running "rampant" throughout the island.
"Folks, it's rampant. Achill escaped very lightly since March, but no more. Stay in, wash hands, mask up," Dr Noreen Curtis wrote on Twitter.
"To all the people here - behave as though you have it & don't want to spread it."
Asked on twitter by former Mayo Fianna Fáil senator Dr Keith Swanick how many cases are there on the island, she replied: "High teens, I have no doubt there will be more."
Folks, it’s rampant. Achill escaped very lightly since March, but no more. Stay in, wash hands, mask up. To all the people here - behave as though you have it & don’t want to spread it. @CMOIreland @paulreiddublin @achilltourism
— Noreen Curtis (@AchillDoc) October 13, 2020
The news comes just a day before the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are expected to recommend to the Government that a number of counties - particularly those close to the border - move to Level Four of Covid-19 restrictions.
Dr Mary Favier, former President of the Irish College of General Practitioners, warned there needed to be a "radical difference" in behaviour over the next couple of days and weeks to avoid such a move.
Achill Island is something of an Irish beauty spot.
Keem Bay has been voted among the best beaches in the world in various travel guides, while the stunning cliffs of Croaghaun on the western end of the island are the third highest sea cliffs in Europe.