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More than a third of new Ireland Covid-19 cases among young – Dr Tony Holohan

People have been warned against returning to pre-pandemic behaviour.

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Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

More than a third of new confirmed Covid-19 cases over the last fortnight were among young people aged under 35, Ireland’s chief medical officer said.

A high level of non-compliance to Covid-19 measures could prompt resurgence of a disease which has been largely in retreat for weeks, Dr Tony Holohan warned.

He accepted teenagers and young adults had been hard hit by curbs to social, sporting and educational life during the lockdown since March.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus wearing a face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus wearing a face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on a Dublin Bus wearing a face mask (Niall Carson/PA)

The senior medic said: “In Ireland, in the last 14 days, over a third of new confirmed cases are in young people under the age of 35.

“This is not a disease that solely affects older people.

“No one is immune, everyone is responsible for limiting the spread of Covid-19.”

If there is to be a resurgence in the disease across the whole society, it will be if we have a high level of non-complianceDr Tony Holohan

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre was on Monday informed that two people with Covid-19 had died.

There have now been a total of 1,717 related deaths.

As of midnight on Sunday June 21, the health care system was notified of four confirmed new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total to 25,383.

“If there is to be a resurgence in the disease across the whole society, it will be if we have a high level of non-compliance,” he said.

He warned against returning to pre-pandemic behaviour or anticipating the easing of restrictions.

Compliance among older people had been particularly good but posed challenges among those aged 15-34, official data showed.

I sense that perhaps people feel, and obviously we understand that there is a fatigue, a frustration with these kinds of measuresDr Tony Holohan

Dr Holohan added: “We have seen a return to almost pre-Covid time social activity, things like house parties.

“I sense that perhaps people feel, and obviously we understand that there is a fatigue, a frustration with these kinds of measures.”

He said the kinds of activities young people enjoyed – socialising together, participating in sport, attendance at school or university or going out to meet friends – had almost all been restricted.

“It has been very hard for people in that age group.

“You can understand the frustration but even if it is true that the risk of severe impact of this illness is much lower, there is a risk in you picking up that disease, that you represent a risk to other people in society that you come into contact with.”

A significant proportion of adults are wearing face coverings.

According to Amarach research, conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, there has been a further increase in the percentage of adults wearing face coverings, up from 34% last week to 41% this week, across all demographic groups.

The increase to 41% remains significantly lower than that of other steps to control the spread of coronavirus, such as handwashing and physical distancing, medical experts warned.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said: “While it is encouraging to see an increase in the number of people wearing face coverings in public places, 41% is a significantly lower uptake when compared to our other recommended behaviours such as handwashing (92%) and physical distancing (91%).

“Face coverings should be worn when it is difficult to maintain physical distancing, for instance in shops and on public transport.”

Forty-eight per cent of females and 33% of males reported wearing a face covering in public places.

The majority (56%) of adults felt that the worst of the pandemic was behind them.

Dr Holohan reiterated advice warning against non-essential travel abroad for the time being.

PA