Video: Government defends new Covid-19 measures, heated exchange in the Dáil

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Government defends Covid-19 measures

The Government has defended the introduction of new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that the measures are being brought in to avoid more severe restrictions.

From Thursday, pubs, nightclubs and restaurants in Ireland will have a midnight closing time.

However, representatives of the hospitality sector, which has only recently fully reopened, warned the Government on Tuesday that extra support will be necessary in the coming weeks.

Despite the new curfew, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has said there are no plans to reintroduce the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

Healthcare workers concerned

Healthcare workers are becoming increasingly concerned amid the rise in Covid-19 infections.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 634 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospital, of which 114 were in ICU.

New figures from the HSPC show that there were 29 outbreaks of the virus across hospitals last week.

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Meanwhile, Dr Tony Holohan has aid that he would be encouraging people to stay at home ahead of Christmas, and that not going out was the responsible decision.

Heated exchange in the Dáil

A row broke out on the floor of the Dáil amid an allegation that the Taoiseach said teachers would be exempt from Covid-19 isolation rules.

Labour leader Alan Kelly claimed Micheál Martin had told him in a private conversation on Tuesday that teachers would be exempt from new rules requiring all members of a household to isolate for five days if there is a positive case in the home.

The Taoiseach rejected the claims as a “total misconstruction” at a press conference held on Tuesday night to announce new pandemic restrictions.

In testy exchanges on Wednesday, Mr Kelly challenged the Taoiseach to “call me a liar” on the record of the House.

Inquest

An inquest is looking into the deaths of a mother and her newborn baby at Cork University Hospital.

The inquest heard that the baby, Darragh Downey, suffered an irretrievable brain injury in March 2019.

He was found trapped underneath his mother Marie Downey, who died from an epileptic seizure.

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