CMO to consider reducing Covid isolation period amid warnings virus will 'keep coming back'

Pandemic legislation lapsed at midnight, meaning no further restrictions can now be introduced to manage the spread of the virus
CMO to consider reducing Covid isolation period amid warnings virus will 'keep coming back'

Updated: 11.15am

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan is to consider whether the isolation period for people who test positive for Covid-19 should be reduced.

Currently, HSE guidelines advise those who test positive for the virus to isolate for seven days and take extra care for a further three days.

Dr Holohan was requested to consider the change following a meeting of the Cabinet health committee on Thursday night after the CMO provided an update to ministers on the current Covid situation in the State.

Dr Holohan will review the seven-day isolation period before making his recommendation to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly.

However, immunology expert Professor Cliona O'Farrelly has cautioned that the virus is still "swirling around" and "will keep coming back".

Speaking to RTÉ Radio's Today with Claire Byrne show, Prof O'Farrelly explained a project she has launched, studying Covid resistance.

She said she is seeking the participation of people who have managed to avoid catching the virus, adding there appeared to be some people who had “genetic resistance markers” which made them resistant to infection.

The project had commenced following the Hep C crisis when it emerged that some women who had received infected blood had not gone on to contract the disease. This led researchers to believe some people had “innate resistance”, Prof O'Farrelly said

Meanwhile, pandemic legislation lapsed at midnight, meaning no further Covid-19 measures can now be introduced.

The Government's decision to allow the regulations to lapse has been criticised, given the high number of cases and the current pressure being put on the hospital system.

On Thursday, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) was joined by the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine (IAEM), both calling for the reintroduction of mandatory mask-wearing in indoor settings and on public transport.

At 8am yesterday, there were 1,535 patients in hospital with the virus, 58 of whom were being treated in ICU.

Despite the concerns from healthcare groups, senior ministers have said the reintroduction of restrictions was not needed to manage the latest wave of infections.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was forced to defend the Government's approach, denying that the coalition was now taking a "hands-off" approach to the virus.

On Thursday afternoon, the Department of Health confirmed 11,741 new cases of the virus - 5,252 confirmed through the PCR testing system and a further 6,489 logged through the HSE's antigen portal.

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