Ministers expecting recommendations for further Covid restrictions in coming weeks

ireland
Ministers Expecting Recommendations For Further Covid Restrictions In Coming Weeks Ministers Expecting Recommendations For Further Covid Restrictions In Coming Weeks
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there was "no guarantees" the country would not be forced into another lockdown. Photo: Getty Images
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Muireann Duffy

Government Ministers are expecting public health experts to recommend further Covid-19 restrictions in the next two weeks as infection levels continues to rise in the country.

From midnight on Thursday, pubs, restaurants and nightclubs will be subject to a 12am curfew, while people are again being asked to reduce their social contacts and work from home where possible.

According to The Irish Times, updated modelling shown to Ministers suggests the healthcare system will come under severe pressure in the approach to Christmas, with pessimistic projections showing case numbers could rise to between 12,000-15,000 a day by the middle of December.

Optimistic projections suggest 1,000 people with the virus could be hospitalised by the end of the month, peaking at 1,100 later in December. The pessimistic scenario sees the November-end figure jump to 1,250, while the peak of 2,250 is estimated for the week before Christmas.

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As of 8am on Thursday, the HSE confirmed there are 643 Covid patients in hospital today (the highest figure since February 24th), of which 119 are in ICU.

Warnings

Ministers heard nine Covid patients are being admitted to ICU on average each day and it has been warned that hospitalisations "are likely to increase significantly in the coming weeks".

The briefing document from the presentation also notes: "Deaths per day are increasing very slowly, at approximately 7 per day, or 200 deaths per month. This may increase, given the very high case counts, though booster vaccination of those aged 80 years and older should reduce mortality."

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Given the stark data, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there are no guarantees that the country will not require a return to lockdown to tackle transmission rates.

Speaking at a meeting of Fianna Fáil TDs on Wednesday, Mr Martin said he has asked the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) to review the five-month timeframe for the administering of booster vaccines, particularly for those who received the one-shot Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine, according to the Irish Examiner.

It is hoped the rollout of the booster jab will help drive down the number of infections and prevent more people from becoming seriously ill.

Despite the worrying trends, Government Ministers are said to be of the view that severe restrictions, such as another lockdown, will be avoided.

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