329 new cases of Covid confirmed in the Republic

There are 19 people in ICU with Covid-19 and a further 57 in hospital with the virus. 
329 new cases of Covid confirmed in the Republic

Kenneth Fox

A further 320 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

They said there are 19 people in ICU with Covid-19 and a further 57 in hospital with the virus.

Nphet said as usual daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update.

The news comes as Ireland’s chief medical officer has said there is no evidence or studies on the use of rapid antigen testing for the reopening of international travel.

Dr Tony Holohan also urged caution around the use of antigen tests to give the green light to restart activities, warning that it “poses several risks”.

Dr Holohan told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that tests cannot be rolled out on the basis of people thinking they are a good idea without scientific evidence.

Members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) appeared before the committee.

They have continuously objected to the use of the rapid tests among the public.

Dr Holohan said he has “no opposition whatsoever” to antigen testing but wants proper studies carried out on its use in the aviation sector.

“I’m not aware of any published data reported on these kinds of settings that apply to asymptomatic individuals,” Dr Holohan added.

“There are no independent, scientific studies published anywhere in the world that I know of.

Reopening schedule

As the Irish Examiner reports, there had been calls to speed up the reopening as the vaccination programme has accelerated and Covid deaths have dropped but Paschal Donohoe has called for patience.

While he said it understandable that people would like more things to open up quicker, it is important that the pace of the reopening is right.

“I believe the next few weeks in which we are asking the country to bear with us until we get to early July is really the right thing to do from a public health point of view," said Mr Donohoe.

Nphet has spent the day defending its stance on antigen testing.

Members were before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to outline why the rapid tests have not been endorsed for international travel.

The intense nature of the meeting did not go unnoticed by both sides of the discussion with a number of ministers commenting on the 'combative' nature of discussions.

Committee members, having been told just last week by a Harvard Medical Professor that antigen testing is more effective than PCR for international travel demanded answers from Nphet.

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