Taoiseach ‘concerned but hopeful’ about Covid-19 situation

Micheál Martin said on Friday that he hoped the HSE could deliver 1.5 million booster jabs before the end of the year.
Taoiseach ‘concerned but hopeful’ about Covid-19 situation

By Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

The Taoiseach has said he is “concerned but hopeful” about Ireland’s Covid-19 situation, as he received a booster jab in Cork.

Micheál Martin said on Friday that he hoped the HSE could deliver 1.5 million booster jabs before the end of the year.

Mr Martin, speaking at Cork City Hall where he paid tribute to HSE staff, re-iterated that the uncertainty of the pandemic meant nothing could be ruled out.

“We have a series of restrictions in place now to the 9th of January. That was agreed by Government following advice from Nphet [the National Public Health Emergency Team].

“One can never rule out anything in relation to Covid-19 because there are many twists and turns.”

The Taoiseach said he believed that people had listened to advice on reducing contacts and were following the latest restrictions.

He urged people to take care in the weeks ahead, but said that hospital numbers had become more encouraging in recent days.

A further 4,115 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland on Friday, the Department of Health said.

According to the latest figures, there are 511 people in hospital with the virus, with 110 patients in intensive care units.

Mr Martin said that he was “concerned, but also hopeful” about the pandemic as things stand amid the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

“We have a new threat now in the form of a new variant. I think just as we overcame Alpha, overcame Delta, we can overcome this wave as well. But we have to behave sensibly, assess it as we get more information and deal with it.”

But he stressed that boosters were a key tool in the fight against Covid-19.

Earlier, the chief medical officer urged the public to get the booster jab because, he said, the Omicron variant “will spread more quickly” than Delta.

Dr Tony Holohan also urged people to stay particularly safe ahead of the Christmas period.

He said he expected the Omicron variant of Covid-19 to become the dominant one, but said it was too early to provide data on when it would happen.

He said that countries across the world were beginning to report widespread community transmission of the variant.

“All of the evidence seems to be that the Omicron will spread more quickly than we’ve seen with Delta,” Dr Holohan told RTÉ News at One.

“The so-called doubling time has been identified as being at much shorter intervals than we’ve experienced previously.

“The important message for people to hear is that we have confidence boosters will have a particularly protective effect.”

On Thursday, the Government announced that anyone arriving in Ireland from Britain would be asked to take daily antigen tests for five consecutive days after arrival.

Mr Martin said that the advice, which will not be placed on a legal footing, had been taken due to the high volume of travel between the two countries.

Dr Holohan said that some parts of Britain were reporting challenges with widespread transmission.

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