Government cannot rule out further restrictions in response to Omicron, says Ryan

The Minister said plans to further accelerate the vaccine booster programme would be considered this week.
Government cannot rule out further restrictions in response to Omicron, says Ryan

David Young, PA

The Government has real and valid concerns about the threat posed by Omicron and cannot rule out the need for further restrictions, Eamon Ryan has said.

The Minister for the Environment stressed the importance of getting as many booster doses delivered as possible in the weeks ahead.

His comments came amid further reports of long queues at vaccination facilities in several parts of Ireland on Monday as people waited for Covid-19 jabs.

Mr Ryan downplayed the prospect of cancelling flights into Ireland as a way to slow the spread of the variant, insisting that the open land border with the North meant it was impossible to “lock off” Ireland.

Coronavirus – Thu Dec 9, 2021
Queues of people form outside a walk-in vaccination centre in Greystones, Co Wicklow last week (PA)

He said scientists were still awaiting comprehensive data on the severity of the illness caused by Omicron.

“There is real concern, I think they are valid concerns,” he said.

“So we will continue to watch obviously what the health authorities in Europe are saying and listen to our own health authorities.

“My sense is still the basic message still should be the same, we do need everyone to try and get that booster done. That will, it seems, give further protection.

“And then it’s the basic measures – it’s good ventilation, good social distancing, the basic things we’ve learned over the last two years.”

Mr Ryan said the Government would be examined plans later in the week to step up the booster programme further.

“I think that’s probably the first, best, most important reaction and response,” he told RTÉ Radio One.

“And we need to do that in response to the Delta wave which is here anyway, we still have 4,000-plus cases a day, so that use of the booster vaccine to protect against that is needed in any case, regardless of Omicron.

“So any further measures, we’ll continue to look at that with our health authorities.”

Coronavirus – Thu Feb 4, 2021
Mr Ryan downplayed the prospect of cancelling flights into Ireland to slow the spread of the virus (PA)

Asked if he could rule out further restrictions, the Green Party leader added: “I think in this virus what we’ve learned is never to rule anything out.

“We’re still awaiting the scientific analysis. And I think what we’re best doing though is following science, is looking at what our European colleagues are doing so to make sure that we’re part of a wider response. You can’t just work this if you just do it on your own.

“So I don’t think we can rule anything out but at the same time what we have seen I think that maybe gives people some hope is that the numbers in our hospitals have stabilised in the last number of weeks, we want to keep that going and that’s one of the metrics that will obviously be used to watch to see what’s happening to our health system.”

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