New Covid restrictions unlikely as hospitalisations pass 900 mark

The Government is not expecting health officials to recommend new restrictions despite record case numbers in recent days.
New Covid restrictions unlikely as hospitalisations pass 900 mark

Dominic McGrath, PA

The Government is not expecting health officials to recommend fresh Covid-19 restrictions despite record case numbers in recent days.

Speaking before a meeting of the Cabinet on Wednesday, senior ministers told reporters they did not anticipate that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will call for new restrictions to curb the surge in Covid cases.

The meeting comes as there were 928 hospitalised cases of the virus at 8am on Wednesday, up from 884 on Tuesday. There has also been a slight increase in the number of Covid patients being treated in ICU, rising to 94 from 90 in the same period.

Speaking before the Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “It’s been a long pandemic. We had Delta early in autumn, followed by Omicron, and I think people have responded very well indeed. I think that will be reflected when Nphet will meet on Thursday.”

He added it was “steady as she goes” in terms of the pandemic and added the Government wanted to ensure children remained in school.

Outside Government Buildings in Dublin, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan indicated he was optimistic fresh restrictions could be avoided.

 

Mr Ryan said health officials believed the State may be close to the peak of the current wave of the virus.

“It is a very large wave, but it won’t be as long,” he predicted.

He also indicated the Government would support a quicker reopening of the economy as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Part of our public health is the ability to socialise, the ability to work, the ability to go to schools and colleges,” he said.

While he did not rule out the need for fresh restrictions, he said: “At the moment, I think the measures we introduced before Christmas were the right ones.”

Mr Ryan also said relaxing the rules for fully vaccinated close contacts would make sense, given the pressures on various sectors.

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath added: “The Government has not had any indication that Nphet intend to bring forward additional restrictions on the economy or society,” he said.

He warned Omicron was still “rampant” and the Government was monitoring the latest data to emerge from hospitals.

“There is no room for complacency and we are watching and monitoring the situation in hospitals very closely. Ee recognise there are real pressures there,” he said.

“The advice at this point is that we’re not quite at the peak. We are coming close to the peak, it could be in the coming days, it could be in the next week to 10 days, nobody knows for sure.”

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