Plans for the reopening of indoor hospitality are expected to proceed, despite an emerging surge in Covid-19 cases among young people.
Concern is growing at the rapid rise in infections that saw 1,179 new cases confirmed yesterday, with 22 patients in intensive care and 91 in hospital.
However, senior Government figures have informed The Irish Times that it is expected this should not affect the advice that it is safe for vaccinated people to go indoors for drinking and dining.
Data circulated to senior officials and Ministers has demonstrated the extent to which the surge in cases has been driven by younger people, with infections “rising very rapidly in young adults”.
The expectation is that this should not lead to increases in hospital admissions at a scale that would lead to significant pressure on the system.
Predicting the impact of the new cases on hospital admissions in the coming weeks is proving very difficult, according to new modelling undertaken late last week by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) and circulated to senior officials and Ministers.
The leaders of the three coalition parties are scheduled to meet today to discuss the deteriorating case numbers, and officials said they were in daily contact with public health advisers and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
There is likely to be a meeting with chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan in the coming days, while the Cabinet is due to meet on Wednesday to approve the final reopening plan in advance of next week.
Senior sources acknowledge they expect a fraught week ahead as cases inevitably rise in advance of the reopening of indoor dining from Monday, July 26th.
Travel and transport
It comes as restrictions on international travel lift from today, with the EU’s Covid pass coming into operation in the State.
Capacity on public transport also increased to 75 per cent from this morning, as trains, buses and trams are running full schedules – though it is still recommended that people avoid using services during peak times.
On Sunday, the Health Service Executive chief executive said that Ireland would experience a “bumpy journey” over the next few weeks.
The deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, tweeted that there had been some 2,550 cases of Covid-19 confirmed over the past two days and called on those not yet vaccinated to be very careful about indoor settings.
Future restrictions cannot be ruled out due to the threat posed by the Delta variant, Simon Harris, the Higher Education Minister, has warned.