Government decision to reject NPHET advice a ‘seismic moment’

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Digital Desk staff

The Government’s expected rejection of the advice of public health experts on new restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19 has been described as a “seismic moment”.

Cabinet Ministers are currently meeting following the recommendation of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) that all counties be placed on Level Five restrictions of the Government's Living with Covid-19 plan.

I really think this was a seismic moment, it is a differential between the Government and NPHET for the first time in a huge way.

Labour leader Alan Kelly has described the Government’s expected rejection of the advice as a defining moment, while welcoming the nationwide move to Level Three restrictions which is forecasted in its place.

“I really think this was a seismic moment, it is a differential between the Government and NPHET for the first time in a huge way,” he said.

“I think it’s a significant moment. NPHET endorsed the roadmap, the Living with Covid roadmap that we’re all so familiar with – if we were going to have a roadmap we should follow it.”

Different roles

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It comes as Dublin-based GP Maitiu O’Tuathail said that the priorities of NPHET and Government are different in dealing with the pandemic.

“I think we need to remember that the role of NPHET is purely and solely to provide public health advice and guidance to the Government,” he said.

“They take into account nine different metrics, and I suppose the most important one for them is the current hospital’s system’s capacity to manage any surges.

“They have no knowledge or say when it comes to the economy or financial sector, so I think it’s the first time we’ve actually seen the Government govern.”

We think we have absolutely no choice but to comply with the public health advice, as hard as that is going to be for people, we simply cannot gamble with the lives of our older and more vulnerable citizens.

It comes as other politicians have backed the advice of the health experts, with People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett saying Government would have no option but to comply with the recommendation earlier today.

“We think we have absolutely no choice but to comply with the public health advice, as hard as that is going to be for people, we simply cannot gamble with the lives of our older and more vulnerable citizens,” he said.

“We have to protect them, even if that means more hardship for people.”

We have counties for example like Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Limerick that have very low levels of contraction that will be now at the same level as Dublin and Donegal with much higher levels for contraction.

Other politicians have criticised the current likely move to Level Three restrictions across the country, with Sinn Féin's health spokesperson David Cullinane saying the move would be in conflict with the Government’s plan.

“If the Cabinet does sign off on the entire state moving to Level Three, that plan is essentially out the window,” he said.

“We have counties for example like Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Limerick that have very low levels of contraction that will be now at the same level as Dublin and Donegal with much higher levels for contraction, and people will be asking themselves what is going on, and what is the basis for these decisions.”

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