In a recent tweet on the 5th of November, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Tony Holohan announced that those in the 19 – 24-year-old age bracket have achieved a “dramatic reduction in incidence from 450 per 100,000 to 150 per 100,000 in two weeks.” It was also noted that the age group has halved their contacts in the past 5 weeks.
This recent drop follows the introduction of the Level 5 restrictions. The strictest set of restrictions in the ‘Living with COVID-19’ plan banned gatherings in homes. It also closed pubs, restaurants and non-essential businesses and limited in-person college activities to the bare minimum. In response, many students have chosen to return home for the semester, giving up their spaces in rental accommodation/student residences. Although this has led to a decrease in COVID cases, it has left many young people feeling isolated and alone.
Dr. Holohan thanked the young people of Ireland and acknowledged that their efforts must be recognised, however, no comment was made surrounding how these restrictions may be affecting them.
The College Tribune contacted Dr. Peter Doran, professor and leader of UCD’s School of Medicine’s COVID-19 Research Group for comment on the tweet. Dr. Doran echoed the words of the CMO, paying tribute to the “extraordinary efforts from young people to stem the tide of infection”. He also acknowledged the “toll it has taken on their educational experience and their social, cultural and sporting activities”.
It is clear that young people are playing a vital role in the lowering of the incidence rate in Ireland and in the words of Dr. Doran are “committed to doing the right thing and adhering to the public health advice, to ensure that our most vulnerable in society are protected”. However, it remains to be seen how long young people can be compelled to follow the advice, particularly over the Christmas season when there will be no online classes to fill time.
Emer Nolan – Reporter