Tánaiste: 'It's not the Government versus Nphet'

Tánaiste: 'It's not the Government versus Nphet'

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar. Pic: JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Ireland's chief medical officer has criticised the leaking of expert advice to ministers which recommended significantly stiffening coronavirus restrictions.

Serious and confidential discussion did not happen because whoever disclosed the guidance did not share their objective of tackling Covid-19, Dr Tony Holohan added.

He said he enjoyed a good relationship with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Dr Holohan said: "We conveyed our findings, analysis and recommendations to the minister for health and on to Government.

"They required early and serious confidential discussion.

"That didn't happen because the information leaked into the media on Sunday evening."

Mr Varadkar has said the recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) to move to Level 5 "hadn't been thought through and there hadn't been prior consultation".

He added on Wednesday: "I was really unhappy, really unhappy about what happened on Sunday night and the anxiety and fear that it caused for hundreds of thousands of people and I gave voice to that anger and gave voice to that frustration.

"But I also said that Nphet and the Government needed to get back on the same page. I rang Tony Holohan last night. We had a good conversation.

"We're on the same team. We always have been and what we need is not the Government versus Nphet, it's Ireland versus Covid."

Dr Holohan said he had a long-standing and good relationship with the Fine Gael leader.

The chief medical officer said: "He understands and shares my analysis every bit as much and has as much concern as I do about it.

"We have a job, which is to make an assessment of the disease.

"Government has to consider a range of other considerations to come to a balanced decision."

The chief medical officer added that he also had a thick skin and his team of experts was committed to making the Government's latest decision a success.

Another five deaths and 611 cases of Covid-19 have been detected.

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