ONE OF Ireland's top professors has warned we are seeing the start of the second wave of the coronavirus crisis.
Infectious Disease Specialist Professor Sam McConkey, head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine, wrote in The Irish Times that it was "inevitable" that deaths and cases would continue to rise across the country.
"Admissions to hospital began to rise about 21 days ago and last week we saw admissions to ICU begin again," he wrote.
"It is now inevitable, in my view, that sadly within the next week or two we will see rising numbers of deaths."
"This is the beginning of the second wave in Ireland."
The Professor also wrote, however, that he is "confident that the death rate in this second wave is likely [to] be lower than the first" thanks to the larger testing capacity and the benefit of six months' experience in how to treat patients with the disease.
The current trend of younger people contracting the virus will also lower the death rate, but Prof McConkey warned that if the trend continues, "it will, without question, also spread to the older people in the community.
"We will see chaotic and frightening outbreaks in crowded hostels and in nursing homes," he predicted.
Pleading with the public to continue to adhere to public health advice, Prof McConkey acknowledged that Ireland "made extraordinary sacrifices to control our first wave ... we must now decide how we choose to deal with this second wave."
All five million people in the Republic of Ireland, from Government leaders and health experts to the general public must do their part "to suppress and prevent the transmission of the virus here".
"At present in Ireland, however, it is as if we are driving the national motor vehicle towards a large tree," he wrote.
"We have not yet changed direction enough to avoid it and we are heading towards a crash."
Yesterday evening, the National Public Health Emergency Team announced a further 396 cases had been identified in Ireland within a 24 hour period, bringing the total to 32,993.
241 of those cases were in Dublin, which is currently in a regional lockdown to suppress the surge in cases.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said:
"The cases we are reporting today were seeded in the last week.
"This virus spreads from person to person. We now have a collective task across the country to break the chains of transmission and stop this virus from spreading further.
"Plan to see half the number of people this week that you saw last week. When you do meet, do so safely – keep your distance, wear a face covering if appropriate and wash your hands.
"Every individual action we take to interrupt the transmission of this disease keeps ourselves and our families safe."