The Covid Delta variant will be on the agenda as NPHET meets to consider its advice to Government on whether or not to further ease Covid-19 restrictions from 5 July
International public health officials have warned a greater focus should be put on airborne transmission to manage the spread of Covid
The advice comes after fears that the latest variant of Covid, the Delta variant known as B1.617.2 is found to be more infectious than previous strains.
In Sydney, a two-week lockdown was declared after an outbreak of the strain. Researchers found that CCTV showed two people simply walking past each other at Bondi Junction transmitted the virus.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young described it as “very fleeting contact”. “At the start of this pandemic, I spoke about 15 minutes of close contact being a concern,” she described to reporters. “Now it looks like it’s five to 10 seconds that’s a concern. The risk is so much higher now than it was only a year ago.”
The Delta variant has been found to be 60% more transmissible among household contacts compared with the Alpha variant, which is why the Irish government is now considering its next move.
Indoor dining had been expected to be reopened from next week, but ministers will now hear from NPHET about their guidelines when it comes to risk.
The latest vaccine advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) will also be on the agenda especially when it comes to younger people
The key areas of focus will be if younger people can receive AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccines or if people in their 60s can receive a different second shot to the first vaccine they received.
But despite fears that the vaccine race is falling behind, Dr. Meru Sheel from Australia’s National University says this is what was expected so we should keep cool heads.
“There’s no need to make it a scary narrative. Of course, new variants are going to emerge, and some are going to be more infectious and some are going to be less.
The public needs to play their part as the public health measures scale up and down based on those variants. Wash your hands, stay at home if you’re unwell, only go to get tested. Wear your mask, get your vaccine if you’re eligible.”
In other words, we can’t freak out every time a new strain is uncovered. The reality is that covid is going nowhere. We need to continue to learn to live with the virus, to focus on our vaccination programme and allow the country’s gears to start turning again.