Updated at 21:20
Ireland is on track to lift all remaining major Covid-19 restrictions on October 22nd other than the wearing of face masks, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Speaking in Slovenia, Mr Martin also indicated that the vaccine booster shot campaign will soon be expanded to those under the age of 80.
As The Irish Times reports, when asked about the next date for reopening on October 22nd, Mr Martin said: “We are on track for that. I have been talking to the chief medical officer, the situation in schools has come back to summer levels, the chief medical officer is happy with that. That has stabilised.”
The update comes as a further 984 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed this evening by the Department of Health.
They said there has been a total of 5,280 deaths related to Covid-19 notified in Ireland, this includes 31 deaths newly confirmed in the past week.
As of 8am today, 343 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised and a further 70 are in ICU.
The Taoiseach added “The vaccination levels have had a huge impact in terms of preventing severe illness, mortality, and excessive hospitalisation. That said we still will have to wear masks in terms of retail, public transport and healthcare settings.”
He said that the vaccine booster campaign is under way for certain categories like those in nursing homes and this will be expanded as we move closer to the winter period.
“At the moment the booster vaccine is being administered in terms of certain categories. The medical authorities will look at expanding that over the coming weeks as well in terms of the other age cohorts. That is a matter that will be given consideration to as we move closer to the winter period. It is all on track right now. We will keep a continuing eye on this.”
Meanwhile, there are 467 patients being treated on trolleys in Ireland’s hospitals this morning, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) figures have revealed.
The union warned that hospitals were returning to pre-pandemic levels of overcrowding. Last week the INMO issued their monthly trolley analysis which showed that it was the second worst ever September for overcrowding in Ireland.
The INMO is calling for “a detailed winter plan” as flu season approaches and for action to be taken to keep patients and staff safe.
The @hpscireland has today been notified of 984* confirmed cases of #COVID19.
As of 8am today, 343 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 70 are in ICU.
There has been a total of 5,280 deaths related to COVID-19 notified in Ireland.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) October 6, 2021
INMO General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “This is a very dangerous situation. Not only is it putting our members and their patients at significant risk of Covid infection, but it is placing an extraordinary burden on a workforce that is completely exhausted.
“Letting overcrowding escalate over the coming months, as we have seen happen year after year, is going to lead to very poor outcomes for patients at a critical time in the pandemic.
“We need to see government coming forward in the coming days with concrete plans for keeping hospitals safe for patients and staff for the coming winter. That means a detailed Winter Plan from the HSE that includes increased capacity in the community. Next week’s Budget must include plans for substantial investment in homecare packages.”