Video: Covid anti-viral pills, travel rule changes, school reopening

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Health Minister seeking to purchase €90m worth of Covid anti-viral pills

The Minister for Health is seeking Government approval for the purchase of €90 million worth of Covid-19 anti-viral pills.

Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo on the purchase of the drugs, made by Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, to Cabinet this morning in its first meeting of the year.

Manufacturers have said the pills produce good results in vulnerable patients and dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death.

The drugs are being examined by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but have yet to be given full approval.

Just before Christmas, the US authorised Pfizer's drug Paxlovid for people aged 12 and older, with trial data showing it to be nearly 90 per cent effective in preventing hospitalisations and deaths in patients at high risk of severe illness.

The US also authorised the use of Merck & Co's anti-viral pill for certain high-risk adult patients, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saying it could be used when other authorised treatments are not accessible or clinically appropriate.

Plan to waive negative Covid test for vaccinated travellers into Ireland

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Vaccinated people travelling into Ireland will no longer need to produce a negative test for Covid-19 under plans before the Cabinet today.

All arrivals into the State have needed a negative PCR or antigen test, depending on their vaccination status, since early December when the threat of the Omicron variant emerged.

However, the requirement will be removed and from tomorrow, The Irish Times reports that the situation that applied before December 6th will return.

This means that vaccinated people with a valid Digital Covid Certificate or another valid proof of Covid vaccination or recovery will not need a negative test.

Unvaccinated people will still need a “not detected” PCR test result taken within 72 hours of their arrival into Ireland.

Bulk of ICU patients have Delta variant

The bulk of Ireland’s sickest Covid-19 patients have the Delta variant and not the highly contagious Omicron strain, hospital data shows.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said that while the vast majority of daily cases are of the Omicron variant, most ICU patients have the Delta variant.

Ireland is experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

On Tuesday, Ireland recorded 21,302 daily infections.

Humanitarian support scheme opens for Wexford businesses hit by Christmas flooding

A humanitarian support scheme has opened for small businesses, sports clubs, community and voluntary organisations unable to secure flood insurance and affected by recent flooding in Wexford.

The Christmas Day flooding had a huge impact on the county with roads impassable and many businesses and homes flooded.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar opened the Emergency Humanitarian Support Scheme today.

The scheme is a humanitarian support payment towards the costs of returning small businesses, sporting, voluntary and community premises to their pre-flood condition including the replacement of flooring, fixtures and fittings and damaged stock where relevant.

The scheme will not provide a contribution to loss of earnings or loss of business goodwill.

Snow and ice warning issued

Another status yellow weather warning has been issued as a cold spell continues to grip the country.

A yellow warning for low temperatures and ice had been in place for the entire country overnight, with temperatures falling as low as -3 degrees in some areas.

While that warning has since lifted, a new snow and ice alert has been set for the Republic and a similar warning has also been issued by the UK Met Office for Antrim, Armagh, Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh.

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