The Government has warned the danger has not passed when it comes to the spread of Covid-19 after data from Dublin Bus showed an increase in the number of journeys taken this week.
Senior Government official Liz Canavan said while the country has made good progress in slowing the spread, it is vital the good work is not undone.
She said: “We need to continue to observe the restrictions in place, stay safe and stay at home.
“As we approach the weekend, the guidance remains clear. We all need to continue to play our part. We cannot be content that what we have done so far is enough.
Dublin Bus passenger numbers are up day-on-day and week-on-week.— Ãine McMahon (@AineMcMahon) April 24, 2020
Liz Canavan said we canât assume that if we relax, the virus will behave differently.
âWe cannot be content that what we have done so far is enough. The virus has not changed, we have.â #COVID19ireland
“The virus has not changed, we have. That is why the virus has improved in the general population. We cannot assume that if we relax that the virus will behave any differently than it has up to now.
“It is highly infectious to older people and people with underlying infections. We must stay the course.
“Dublin Bus notified us yesterday evening of an increase in passenger numbers day-on-day this week. All days are above levels seen in previous weeks. They are engaging with the National Transport Authority to get more specific data on this.
“An Garda Siochana will also be updating us to give us their view. They are continuing to monitor the situation in terms of traffic volumes and will continue to urge the public to abide by the measures.”
Ms Canavan said it has been eight weeks since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed. She said social cohesion has been key to Ireland’s response and urged people to continue to co-operate to defeat the virus.
We can only move into this next stage if people take responsibility for how they engage in more relaxed behaviourRuairi Brugha
Meanwhile a professor of epidemiology has warned the public will have to double-down on efforts around social distancing and hygiene as the coronavirus restrictions are gradually eased.
Ruairi Brugha, of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said the country can only move to the next stage if people take responsibility for how they behave around distancing measures.
Prof Brugha warned easing restrictions is “quite complex” and said a lot of steps need to be put in place.
He told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “Once we reach the point of relaxation, it’s going to determine whether we are going to maintain control of this epidemic or risk a second wave epidemic down the road.
“We can’t keep things as they are and we need to recognise that as we relax certain measures, carefully in a staged way with good monitoring systems in place, we have to double-down on what we need to do around distancing and hygiene.
“The responsibility will be more now on the public than it was previously.
“We can only move into this next stage if people take responsibility for how they engage in more relaxed behaviour, whether it’s going back to work or children going back to school, and it isn’t enough to have four-fifths of us actually taking this seriously.
“It only takes a small number of people to behave in a celebratory way. We know that we Irish when we get the opportunity want to be convivial and we want to do it around alcohol and we’ve seen the big increase in alcohol sales.”
He said it only take around 2-3% of the population to behave in an irresponsible way to risk the spread of the virus.
The professor said the Government needs to outline a communications strategy as relaxation measures are put in place.
On Thursday, the number of coronavirus-linked deaths in Ireland rose to 794, with 28 further fatalities confirmed in the previous 24 hours.
There were 936 new cases of the disease confirmed, bringing the total since the outbreak began to 17,607.