Covid challenges in the weeks ahead, Taoiseach says

Covid challenges in the weeks ahead, Taoiseach says

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin at Government Buildings. Photograph Moya Nolan

There are "challenges" in the coming weeks, as efforts to reduce the number of Covid case numbers step up, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheal Martin said the restrictions brought in two weeks ago and the "call to arms" to reduce social contacts and work from home has helped stabilise cases.

Speaking at the launch of the North East Inner City progress report in Dublin, Mr Martin said the measures and the booster programme have had an impact.

He made the comments ahead of a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), who will discuss the latest Covid-19 situation facing Ireland.

With only weeks to go until Christmas, health officials are meeting to discuss whether any new measures are needed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"I think the measures we announced two weeks ago and the general, if you like, call to arms, where we said to the public, reduce social contacts, reduce socialisation, work from home if you possibly can, get vaccinated, get the booster when you are asked, is having an impact," Mr Martin said.

"There has been a stabilisation of hospital numbers and of ICU numbers and in some of the older age cohorts where the booster has been rolled out, there has been a downward trajectory.

"That said, the Delta wave is still at a high level.

"The challenges facing us are obviously the season that we are in and also the CMO (chief medical officer) is watching the combination of potential flu season in the new year and then the Omicron variant.

"There are challenges that we have to be mindful of and obviously Nphet are meeting today and they will make recommendations to the Government and Government will consider those recommendations.

"I spoke to the president of the European Union Commission (Ursula von der Leyen) last evening and the basic message there was that it will take the guts of three weeks before scientists will have a comprehensive picture (of Omicron).

"In the next number of weeks, we'd have to be cautious in respect of that variant, and its potential to do harm."

Mr Martin said that the country has stabilised the Delta wave and its impact on hospitals and intensive care units.

He said that up to 11,000 people came forward to get their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine last week, with a further 10,000 getting their second dose.

"So we're continuing to appeal to people to get your first and second dose if you haven't done that, and also to get your booster," Mr Martin added.

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