Government giving 'very active consideration' to Nphet Level 5 recommendation

ireland
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Digital Desk staff

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the Government is giving "very active consideration" to moving the country to Level 5 restrictions upon the recommendation of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Senior Government officials will hold a "crunch" meeting on Saturday to consider the recommendation, according to The Irish Times.

Speaking in Brussels this afternoon, Mr Martin did not confirm a timeline on when a decision could be expected but described the situation as "very serious".

“We’re giving this very active consideration, the advice is the situation is very serious and we will need further action in relation to this," he said.

Mr Martin added that the Government would undertake “detailed consideration examining all aspects of this and make sure that when we respond, it will be a comprehensive response.”

Nphet has recommended that the country be moved to Level 5 restrictions for a period of six weeks.

Two sources with knowledge of the recommendation to Government confirmed it had been made following a meeting of the team on Thursday, according to the Irish Times.

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It comes after the Government put three border counties - Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal - into Level 4 amid ongoing concern over the rate of infection. Household visits were also restricted to essential circumstances across the rest of the Republic, which is in Level 3 of the five-level coronavirus alert system.

On Thursday Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned that Covid-19 was “not in control” and that the trajectory of the disease was rapidly deteriorating.

Oversight committee

Nphet recommendations are normally considered first by the oversight committee headed up by Martin Fraser, then a Cabinet sub-committee and then full Cabinet. However, the Taoiseach is still in Brussels on Friday and it is unclear if any of these meetings will take place.

Public health officials from Nphet wrote to the Government following their meeting on Thursday to make further recommendations following a significant increase in infection levels.

Dr Holohan said case numbers had nearly doubled and the number of hospitalised patients was growing faster than the exponential growth models predicted.

On Thursday Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said if Ireland moves to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions people will demand an exit strategy like they have in Germany.

Mr Varadkar told party colleagues yesterday that in order for the State to go to Level 4 or 5, he would need to be convinced it is the right thing to do. He said he did not want to be rushed into making a decision on a Covid-19 lockdown until it was completely necessary to do so.

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Back on October 6th, the Government decided that the entire country would follow Dublin and Donegal and move to Level 3 of restrictions.

It followed the Cabinet rejecting a recommendation from public health officials to move to Level 5 to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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