Digital Desk Staff
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has not been “gagged”, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Sunday, and the Government would continue to follow its advice in the coming weeks.
As The Irish Times reports, Mr Martin told reporters in Ennis this afternoon “There is no question of anybody being gagged."
He was speaking after a Government decision on Friday that all communications about Covid were to be managed through the Government Information Service, based in Government Buildings.
“Co-ordination is important in terms of co-ordinating government messages,” Mr Martin said.
“There will always be difficulties, and mistakes will get made . . . There’s no playbook that you take off the shelf.”
He said that “overall countries that have generally abided by public health advice have done well, and Ireland has done well compared to other countries.”
Mr Martin said the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan “fully recognises the importance of . . .. co-ordinating messaging and everything, there’s no issue there.”
“From my perspective, and I’ve been very clear from the beginning of the pandemic, public health advice is very important and central to responding to this epidemic and we’re doing that and will continue to do that,” Mr Martin said.
He said that current restrictions would be in place until there was a better understanding of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
“It will two to three weeks until we have a better picture with regard to Omicron before the scientists globally will have a collective view on it . . . First of all, identify how really infectious it is , the degree to which it will escape vaccines, if it does, and how virulent is it.”
He said that “Public health will advise, Government will decide.”
“We need to hold our nerve,” he said.
The Government announced a new set of restrictions on Friday including tighter cuts to the number of people who can eat indoors and attend indoor entertainment and sporting events from Tuesday until January 9th.