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Donegal Covid risk 'means extra vigilance needed'

BBC News logo BBC News 5 days ago

People in Donegal have been urged not to engage in many of the country's post-lockdown freedoms because of the county's high Covid-19 rate

The Republic of Ireland's Level Five restrictions are being eased from 10 May.

But Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said people in Donegal "will continue to need to see themselves as having to protect themselves".

It currently has the highest Covid-19 rate in the country.

Dr Holohan said: "While the country in broad terms will move on and open up in a lot of respects, individuals in Donegal will continue to need to see themselves as having to protect themselves and to not engage in much of the kinds of activities that other parts of the country will be able to experience."

People in Donegal, he added, need to understand there's "much higher risk to them involved in some of these activities that are possible than there is to the rest of the population, as we move through May".

He said they now "need to be vigilant, they need to be compliant as much as possible and they need to work really hard to try to turn that situation around".

map © BBC

Last week the chief medical officer spoke about his concerns about the levels of non-compliance with Covid-19 restrictions in the county.

On Saturday, the chief medical officer and Irish health minster met with local politicians to discuss the infection rate.

As of 29 April the 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Donegal was 293.4 while the rate for the country as a whole was 127.3.

It has since emerged a pop-up test centre will open in Milford and a public health media campaign launched as part of measures to curb the rate of infection.

Community groups, including the GAA, will encourage young people to adhere to the public health guidance.

There has also been calls for a ramping up of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to curb a spike in infection rates.

a sign on the side of a road: Thousands of people cross between Northern Ireland and Donegal daily © Getty Images Thousands of people cross between Northern Ireland and Donegal daily

Meanwhile across the border in Londonderry, the city's mayor said the north west border region was at a "critical juncture in the pandemic".

Brain Tierney urged the people of "Derry, Strabane and Donegal to continue to give us your support by staying local, avoiding unnecessary journeys and visits to beauty spots outside of their local area".

"We are very conscious that restrictions are being lifted at different stages on both sides of the border and the roll out of the vaccination programme are also at varying levels so it is imperative that the public continue to follow the public health guidance by staying local and adhering to social distancing guidance," he said.

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