Infectious Diseases Consultant Clíona Ní Cheallaigh has described as worrying the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland.

Infectious Diseases Consultant Clíona Ní Cheallaigh has described as worrying the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, said said: “The scene is changing in hospitals, and they are starting to see patients unwell with Covid.”
Dr Ní Cheallaigh said Covid-19 is spreading more rapidly from indoor settings, and from households and urged people to “think that everyone you come into contact with has the virus, and avoid all situations where it can be passed on.”
In relation to the wearing of face coverings Dr Ní Cheallaigh said even in settings where a two metre distance can be guaranteed, like in an office environment, “there is no downside to wearing a mask, and it may give you extra protection”.
She said people in a closed space, like in a pub, she said, will be at a higher risk.
“In pubs there are people in a closed space. They can’t wear a mask when they are having a drink so a pub will be high risk by its very nature.”
She highlighted that there is international evidence from other countries in Europe to show that reopening pubs, bars, and nightclubs can lead to an increase in cases of Covid-19.
There is no zero-risk environment, Dr Ní Cheallaigh said, “unless you stay at home”.
The Government must weigh up the risk benefit of reopening all pubs, she added.
“It is hard to argue that there would be zero risk in pubs. There will be shared airspace, people will be using the same toilet facilities, and touching door handles.”
Dr Ní Cheallaigh accepted that it is difficult for young people not to be able to celebrate special occasions like christenings, birthdays, and communions, but she said the circulation of the virus in the community shows that it is unclear where some cases originated.
“Rapid, widespread, easy to access turnaround on testing for Covid-19 is vital,” she said.
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It comes as the level of hospital overcrowding has reached its highest this month, with 232 patients waiting today, according to figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
These patients are in emergency departments, or on wards waiting for admission to a bed.
The hospitals with the highest level of emergency department overcrowding are University Hospital Limerick with 51 patients waiting, the Midland Regional Mullingar with 21 and Cork University Hospital with 20.
The HSE puts the national figure lower at 186.
Meanwhile, CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association Donall O’Keeffe said so-called wet pubs should not be “singled out” in the hospitality sector, and if restrictions need to be applied in certain areas as Ireland deals with Covid-19, then all businesses in the sector “should be treated equally”.
Also speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Mr O’Keeffe called on the Government to “stick by its decision” to allow all pubs to reopen on 21 September.
He said he accepts that pubs may need to close if they are deemed to be sources of outbreaks in certain areas, but all businesses in the hospitality sector in that area should also be closed.
“When the risk is in the workplace in hospitality then all of the sector must be treated equally. These businesses have been closed for 189 days; it is long overdue that these pubs get opportunity to reopen.” 
There have been outbreaks in other sectors, like the meat processing industry, and those businesses were closed, but the sector remained open,” he added.
“It is imperative that if and when there are outbreaks in pubs that those are dealt with by the authorities, but the rest of the sector has to have the opportunity to keep trading.”
“If wet pubs are singled out it will be grossly unfair”, he said.
Mr O’Keeffe said the pubs that have been closed “have made no contribution to the infection rate in Dublin today.”
He said so far there have been a low number of cases related to the hospitality sector.
When wet pubs reopen, Mr O’Keeffe said “it will not be business as usual”, and public health guidelines “will transform” how businesses operate in these settings.