Live'Fourth wave' of Covid-19 has begun in NI and 40% increase in hospitalisations in last seven days
A fourth wave of Covid-19 infections is underway in Northern Ireland, Chief Medical Officer, Sir. Michael McBride has confirmed.
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LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus NI - Vaccination plea as Northern Ireland experiences ‘fourth wave’
Last updated: Monday, 05 July, 2021, 16:07
Vaccination plea as Northern Ireland experiences ‘fourth wave’
The importance of vaccination has been emphasised as Northern Ireland’s top medic confirmed the country has entered a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic - writes Rebecca Black, PA.
Another 420 confirmed cases of the virus were notified by the Department of Health on Monday.
Chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride said case numbers will increase rapidly as restrictions on movement are eased and the Delta variant is now dominant.
But he said the infection rate can be slowed by following public health advice and getting vaccinated.
Around 80% of the adult population in Northern Ireland, eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination, has received one dose while more than 60% has received two.
“We are in the fourth wave of this virus, there is no doubt about that, numbers will increase rapidly and we can do things to slow that, we can continue to follow the public health advice but most importantly now is the time to get the vaccine,” Sir Michael said.
He added on the BBC’s The Nolan Show: “Numbers will peak in August/early September and then after a delay of eight to 10 days we will see that begin to translate into hospital admissions.
“If we can get our vaccination rate up to 90%, we can reduce the number of people in hospital at any one time from 400 to approximately 200.”
On Monday morning there were 32 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom four were in intensive care.
Sir Michael said the health service is on track to have delivered 85% of first doses of the jab by the end of July.
He said so far around 56% of 18 to 29-year-olds have been vaccinated so far, and urged those in that age bracket to come forward.
“The vaccine is doing a lot of the heavy lifting, it is weakening the link between infections and the number of people being admitted to hospital, it hasn’t broken that link completely,” he said.
“It’s really, really important that as many of us get vaccinated because that builds a wall around the people who are vulnerable… and who wouldn’t want to reduce by 50% the number of people towards the end of the summer who are in our hospitals.”
Earlier, chief scientific adviser Ian Young also encouraged take-up of the vaccine.
“It is likely to peak some time in August, possibly early September, based on our modelling and the question is to what extent that will lead through to hospital admissions,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
“Because of the success of the vaccine programme, the number of admissions will be less compared with previous waves but it can still be very substantial and at the moment we’re anticipating possibly up to around 400 patients in hospital with Covid towards the end of the summer.
“That’s why we need to push vaccination now, we can reduce that number substantially, probably by around half, if we can get up to 90% of the adult population vaccinated.”
Mobile vaccination clinics are being rolled out across Northern Ireland to make the jab more accessible and mass vaccination centres are offering walk-in appointments.
Health Minister Robin Swann has described the recent increase in the number of cases of the virus as a “serious concern”.
He said the latest cases are mostly within the younger age groups, and urged those to come forward to be vaccinated.
Meanwhile, DUP MP Sammy Wilson has called for Northern Ireland to follow the rest of the UK ahead of the anticipated lifting of restrictions on movement in England later this month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to tell people that it will be left to their judgment how to reduce the risk posed by the virus, rather than expecting the Government to set out restrictions in law.
The approach is expected to mean that from “freedom day” in a fortnight’s time, face masks will no longer be required in many settings and social distancing restrictions will be removed in pubs and restaurants
Sir Michael said the wearing of face coverings has reduced transmission of the virus, and will continue to do so.
“The more of us who continue to wear face coverings, the greater that impact will have,” he said.
“Social distancing has undoubtedly prevented chains of transmission and has reduced infection, hand washing, good ventilation, all of those, the evidence is strong and they still work.
“Increasingly as we get more people vaccinated and more people protected then there is the opportunity to look at those interventions, the necessity for them, but ultimately those will be policy decisions for ministers.”
BBC broadcaster, Stephen Nolan, has clashed with a so-called ‘anti vaxxer’ Carl on The Stephen Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster.
The show started with Stephen Nolan interviewing Northern Ireland Chief Medical Officer, Sir. Michael McBride who encouraged anyone who has not been vaccinated to receive it as soon as possible.
Sir. McBride told The Stephen Nolan Show that the more people who take the vaccine the easier it will be for the Northern Ireland Executive to lift or ease restrictions such as the mandatory wearing of face coverings and social distancing.
“I listened in great detail to that interview with Dr. McBride and I still will not be taking that vaccine,” said Carl.
When asked why, Karl said: “It’s my body, my choice and I won’t be injecting my body with drugs that has got serious side effects.”
Stephen Nolan interrupted: “Well, it doesn’t have serious side effects for the vast majority of people; you have heard the CMO quoting all of the worldwide evidence which tells you of all of the authorities which have told that these vaccines are safe.”
Carl replied: “It depends who you speak to, Stephen.
“Different people have different opinions and there’s awful lot of medical evidence out there that says the opposite of that,”
“No there’s not,” said Nolan.
“There is, Stephen,” repeated Carl.
“There’s not,” replied Nolan.
“Yes there is, Stephen,” added Carl.
“There's simply is not,” stated Nolan.
Nolan went on to repeat and explain to Carl what Sir. Michael McBride was saying concerning vaccines.
“I don’t accept the facts and figures, Dr. McBride quotes and says,” said Carl.
“You’re rubbishing the vaccine - what evidence have you got, Carl?.” said Nolan.
“I have spoken to a lot of people who actually took the vaccine,” replied Carl.
“Okay, enough, Carl, enough, I have given you about five chances to give me any statistical evidence and it is very, very telling you weren’t able to do so,” said Nolan before cutting Carl off.
Kate self-isolates after coming into contact with Covid sufferer
The Duchess of Cambridge is having to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who later tested positive for coronavirus, Kensington Palace said - writes Toby Jones, PA Court Correspondent.
Kate was due to spend the day with William, celebrating the 73rd anniversary of the NHS at two major events, but will now have a 10-day period at home.
The couple had planned to attend a Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in honour of the nation’s health service, and in the afternoon host a Big Tea at Buckingham Palace for NHS staff, in their roles as joint patrons of NHS Charities Together.
Kensington Palace said in a statement: “Last week the Duchess of Cambridge came into contact with someone who has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
“Her Royal Highness is not experiencing any symptoms, but is following all relevant Government guidelines and is self-isolating at home.”
Kate’s last public event was a visit to Wimbledon on Friday when she toured the SW19 sporting venue, meeting staff in the museum, Centre Court kitchen and sitting with former tennis star Tim Henman to watch Jamie Murray play in the doubles.
The duchess is patron of the All England Lawn Tennis Club and a keen tennis fan but is now likely to miss the men’s and women’s finals at the weekend.
William contracted Covid last spring and was able to carry on with telephone and online engagements while he was treated by royal doctors but was reportedly hit “pretty hard” by the virus and at one stage struggled to breathe.
The Prince of Wales also caught the virus during the same period but had milder symptoms although he did lose his sense of smell and taste for a period.
Kate began self-isolating on Friday after being alerted that afternoon that she had come into contact with someone who later tested positive, but it is not known if the NHS app made her aware.
The duchess, who has received both her Covid jabs, follows the royal household testing regime and takes lateral flow tests twice a week.
In addition she took lateral flow tests before visiting Wimbledon and watching England’s Euro 2020 victory against Germany on Tuesday with William and son Prince George – with both results negative.