Dr Ronan Glynn has warned that there remains a “considerable risk” that Ireland will experience a further wave of infection if public health restrictions are eased too quickly.
He said that modelling has shown that a further wave of infection can be “substantially mitigated” if levels of social contact across the population remain largely unchanged over the next six weeks.
“The priority must, for the coming weeks, remain on maintaining control over the disease, until vaccination can offer a widespread population level of protection,” Dr Glynn added.
“NPHET advice to Government continues to recommend a cautious approach and that any further easing of measures should be gradual and phased and should allow adequate time between phases to assess the impact.
“NPHET will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation closely over the coming weeks to assess the impact of the reopening of priority services and those measures that have been eased.
“NPHET and the Government will consider the position again at the beginning of May.”
The acting chief medical officer has said that the country has more reasons to be hopeful now than at any other time in the pandemic.
Dr Glynn told the Oireachtas health committee that the national vaccine programme is well underway.
“Last week, Ireland reached the milestone of one million vaccines administered,” he added.
“As of last Saturday, 19.3% of Ireland’s adult population have had at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine and 8.1% of adults, including those most vulnerable in our population, are fully protected.
“Secondly, we are seeing good progress in the trajectory of the disease.
“Our most recent data, up to midnight 11 April, shows that the 14-day incidence rate decreased to 132 per 100,000 population, a reduction of 15% from the previous week.
“The five-day moving average of new cases reduced to 404, a reduction of 23% from the previous week.
“Case numbers reported on Sunday were the lowest reported since mid-December.”