Ireland ‘ahead’ of best-case Covid-19 scenario given four weeks ago

The Government is now 'in a very positive position to talk about May, June, July' according to the Health Minister
Ireland ‘ahead’ of best-case Covid-19 scenario given four weeks ago

Ireland is “ahead” of the best-case scenario given four weeks ago regarding Covid-19 case numbers, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The Government is now “in a very positive position to talk about May, June, July” and the further easing of restrictions, the Minister told RTÉ’s This Week.

With the R number currently remaining below 1, the full opening of construction — along with retail and hospitality — is under consideration, Mr Donnelly confirmed.

“We are ahead of the best-case scenario we were given four weeks ago,” he said.

“What that means is we can look at the full list that was set out two or three weeks ago...

“It puts us in a very positive position for the conversation about May, June and July.”

The Minister said the beginning of May could see the full reopening of “construction, non-essential retail, personal services, museums, libraries, religious services and so forth” if current trends continue.

No decisions have yet been made regarding hospitality and outdoor pubs, he added.

Under-30 vaccinations

The Minister also clarified that there is no plan to vaccinate those under the age of 30 ahead of some older cohorts.

It emerged on Saturday that Mr Donnelly had asked his department to review if the fast-tracked vaccination of younger people could reduce Covid-19 transmission rates.

Opposition parties accused the Minister of causing confusion and undermining the Government's age-based priority list introduced two weeks ago.

Speaking on Sunday, Minister Donnelly clarified that he had “simply asked” the deputy chief medical officer (CMO), Dr Ronan Glynn, for his opinion on the potential move after it was originally detailed in a proposal from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

He told Newstalk radio: “Certainly it wasn’t floated, and there is no plan in place — I simply asked the deputy CMO his view, given that it was in Niac, given that we’re always doing everything we can to make the programme as effective as possible.”

The Minister said Dr Glynn informed him that current Covid-19 transmission data did not support changing the rollout plan.

“I can tell you that I basically said, is the transmission data at a point, and he said no it’s not. So it was one of many questions we regularly ask.”

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