Coronavirus: 360 new cases reported as vaccine advice changes

ireland
Coronavirus: 360 New Cases Reported As Vaccine Advice Changes
Thousands of retailers reopened to customers today after almost five months of closure. Photo: PA
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A further 360 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Republic.

The latest figures show 110 coronavirus patients are in hospital, 42 of whom are in intensive care.

The update comes as the health service continues to be impacted by a ransomware attack that crippled its IT systems.

Amid the cyberattack, the Department of Health said daily Covid case numbers may change due to future data validation.

A security briefing for party leaders was due to take place on Monday afternoon.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he is not aware of any other bodies that have been affected, following reports of a widespread audit of Government departments to see if they have been hit by the cybersecurity threat.

Earlier on Monday, HSE boss Paul Reid said fixing the damage to the health service’s IT systems following the attack will cost “tens of millions” of euro.

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The impact of the attack on services is expected to last throughout this week and beyond, with thousands of patients facing cancelled appointments and delays.

Private and voluntary hospitals will be brought on board to ease the burden, with “alternative processes” to be put in place for urgent cancer care needs.

Vaccine choice

Meanwhile, people aged between 40 and 49 could be given a choice of which vaccine they receive, according to advice given to the HSE.

A decision on the latest update to the vaccination rollout is expected this week.

Details of the latest advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) were received by the HSE at the weekend, with the next steps now under consideration.

Chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said: “We received some information over the weekend indicating the line of thinking of Niac as it was relayed by the CMO [chief medical officer] to the minister for health.

“That shows that Niac certainly considered the administration of these vector vaccines – you know, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – to 40 to 49-year-olds, with some conditions attached.

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“We need to go through that information ourselves and think, how do we translate that information and those requirements into a mass vaccination programme where we can do this at pace.”

One possibility under discussion is that people aged 40 to 49 could choose whether to accept one of the AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, or wait for Moderna or Pfizer, which have been approved for use in that cohort.

At present, AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson (also known as the Janssen vaccine) jabs are not being given to those under the age of 50 due to concerns over a rare blood clotting issue.

Summer travel

In other news, Mr Varadkar said it will be “August at the earliest” before international travel can return.

He told reporters: “I understand why people want clear information from us as soon as possible.

“We’re just not in a position to give that at the moment. There’s still a number of things in play.

“You know, 60 per cent of adults have yet to be vaccinated. There are concerns about the Indian variants. We do believe the vaccines are effective against it, we’re just not 100 per cent sure yet.”

He added: “Realistically, I think it’s towards the end of the summer. It’s more likely to be around August at the earliest, before we say to people that it’s OK to engage in non-essential international travel.”

Ireland
40 to 49-year-olds to be given choice of AstraZene...
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Mr Varadkar also said EU countries will have “a lot of discretion” when it comes to implementing the digital green certificate, a bloc-wide measure aimed at restoring travel between member states.

Meanwhile, thousands of retailers have reopened their doors to customers after almost five months of closure.

The country took another step towards normality as all non-essential retail was allowed to resume on Monday.

Click-and-collect services and in-store shopping resumed last week as part of a phased reopening of retail but stores have not been allowed to open their doors to all customers since before New Year’s Eve.– Additional reporting: PA

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