Digital Desk Staff
The Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has proposed a new structure for the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
As the Irish Examiner reports, It comes as Nphet is to advise the Government that the requirement to wear masks in most settings will become advisory.
Sources said that Dr Holohan gave the "strongest indication yet" that yesterday's meeting of Nphet was to be the last in the current form. Dr Holohan is said to have thanked medics for their work throughout the pandemic.
It is understood that he has since given a proposal to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on what the future of the team would be.
A senior health official confirmed that they expected the current Nphet group to be "stood down and integrated back into the Department of Health."
The matter emerged during a meeting in which officials also discussed the removal of mandatory mask-wearing.
If the advice is accepted by the Government, mandated mask-wearing will no longer apply in schools, public transport, taxis, in retail settings, and certain workplaces.
Mask wearing will still be required in healthcare settings. February 28th has been put forward as a possible date for the change to take effect.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin emphasised the difference between what is mandated legally and what the public health guidance is
"I will continue to wear masks going into retail and if I am on public transport. I will continue to do that as a precaution."
Mr Martin said that advice would continue to be provided by public health and reminded the public that the pandemic is still ongoing and that Ireland is merely entering a new phase.
He said the main focus now will be on vaccination.
"Those who didn't get vaccinated during the last number of months because they may have got Covid, when they are eligible to get the vaccine, they should get the vaccine," said Mr Martin.
The Nphet recommendations are expected to be relayed to the Government in a letter from Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, this evening.