Ireland will experience a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases before social distancing measures start to make an impact, an infectious disease expert has said.
Professor Sam McConkey said he was “not surprised” by the increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 confirmed on Thursday.
A third person who contracted Covid-19 died in the Republic on Thursday, and 191 new confirmed cases took the total to 557.
Prof McConkey told Newstalk FM further social measures will have to be considered if the numbers fail to level off following the expected surge.
He said the figures follow an exponential curve model and he hopes that in the next five to seven days the number of cases will level off.
Prof McConkey said: “There are going to be significant numbers in the next four to five days. The health sector is bracing itself.
“If it does not level off, unfortunately we’re going to have to look at additional measures to flatten the curve.”
We canât stop the virus, but together, we can reduce the impact it has on our families and communities, our health service and our day to day lives. These simple actions can protect you and protect others #coronavirus #COVID19 #ItsInOurHands pic.twitter.com/baiCV5LgbQ— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) March 19, 2020
He praised people who have changed the way they live to help combat the virus.
Prof McConkey added: “The vast majority have changed the way we live our lives. I would encourage everyone to get on message with social distancing. That’s very important.”
The chairman of the Health Service Executive’s Coronavirus Expert Advisory Group said the increase in cases in the Republic is due to a combination of the increase in testing and the virus becoming more prevalent.
Speaking on RTE Prime Time, Dr Cillian De Gascun said: “We know that testing has ramped up significantly in the past few days – we have seven or eight hospitals testing and doing up to 1,600 tests per day. Two weeks ago, we were doing two tests per day.
“The more you test, the more you will find.
“From a public health perspective, we are still in the containment phase and we want to identify as many cases as we can, isolate them and do contact tracing.”