Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, is calling upon those within the community who remain unvaccinated against Covid-19 to “reconsider their decision” in light of the recent spiralling of case numbers and the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Cllr O’Rourke made his plea during the most recent sitting of the Athlone-Moate Municipal District where he received support from colleagues at the virtually hosted meeting.
The Athlone Deputy Mayor’s comments are reflective of the current Covid-19 situation at a local level, the most recent 14 day profile noting that there were 1,392 cases per 100,000 people in the Athlone local electoral area (County Westmeath ), equivalent to almost one in 71 persons testing positive over this two week period.
This figure is surpassed in the Moate local electoral area where there were 1,621 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people during the same period - such a statistic representing one in 62 persons contracting the virus in this particular timeframe.
Addressing his fellow public representatives and Council executive, Cllr O’Rourke implored those who remain unsure about taking the vaccination to listen to the advice of medical experts and shun relevant social media messaging.
“In light of additional uncertainty and concern relating to Covid-19 with high case numbers at a local level and the emergence of a new variant, I would like to make a plea to those who have chosen to remain unvaccinated up to this point.
“I would strongly urge those unvaccinated within our community in particular to reconsider their decision and to listen to responsible and reputable medical experts, not to certain YouTube or Facebook experts but to those who are doing their utmost to keep us safe and who are and have always been respected in their field of work.
“It is clear and obvious that the unvaccinated pose a threat to the vaccinated, to the medically vulnerable and to the elderly. They also pose a threat to society as a whole and as a result to our economy and to jobs. The impact of their decision to remain unvaccinated is widespread and damaging on so many levels.
“The facts are there for all to see - the unvaccinated are having a disproportionate effect on Ireland’s health service and on our vital and precious intensive care beds.
“The bottom line is that those who do not get vaccinated are not only jeopardising their own personal health but also the health of those around them.
“In the run-up to Christmas, please do the appropriate and Christian thing and get vaccinated,” Cllr O’Rourke stated.
Concurring, Fine Gael Councillor, John Dolan, noted that there was “no excuse” not to avail of a free vaccination.
“The administering of the Covid-19 vaccinations has been one of the success stories of this pandemic and the HSE must be commended in this regard. We hear that many of those in the ICU hospital departments are unvaccinated and we have to send out a message that the vaccination will protect you against possible death,” Cllr Dolan asserted.
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Cllr Frankie Keena stated that those who remain unvaccinated cause “consequences” for various strands of society.
“While I am aware of those who cannot avail of a Covid-19 vaccination for personal medical reasons, those who choose not to be vaccinated are causing major issues for all sectors of our society,” Cllr Keena added.
Covid-19 Test Centre Remains Ope
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the HSE has confirmed to the Athlone Advertiser that the Covid-19 pop-up test centre located on the grounds of Athlone GAA will remain open “while demands remain high”.
The self-referral test centre, which is operational from 10am to 6pm, was established in response to County Westmeath having the highest Covid-19 14 day incidence rate in the country.
Appointments for the pop-up test centre on the grounds of Athlone GAA can be made online at https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/covid19/testing/get-tested/.
New Restrictions Imposed
In a further blow to the local hospitality industry, additional Covid-19 restrictions were implemented on Tuesday of this week.
All nightclubs will remain closed until January 9 and restrictions in place during the summer will return for bars and restaurants.
This includes a return to table service with a maximum of six persons allowed per table, no multiple table bookings and no interaction between tables.
Indoor capacity will be limited to 50 percent for all cultural, entertainment and sporting events, while the digital Covid-19 certificate will now be required for gyms and hotels.