Video: HSE data dump, July reopening, easing of restrictions in the North

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Kenneth Fox

Investment in IT systems 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has admitted that there has not been sufficient investment in IT and cybersecurity for the Irish health care system and that it should have been done “years ago.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Mr Martin said he accepted that the system was vulnerable, it had been his personal view for a long time that there needed to be much more investment.

“We can modernise our health service far more effectively, and it's an aim of mine and the Government to do that, and to use every available means at our disposal to modernise our health service from a digital perspective. And we've been too slow at that", he said.

Progress was being made and the Covid experience had accelerated that, he said.

Post-pandemic unemployment

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Unemployment could increase beyond the highest rate recorded during the last recession according to a study by Social Justice Ireland.

The advocacy group predicts over 390,000, or 16.1 per cent of workers could be unemployed following the pandemic, which would be the highest unemployment rate since 1986.

Based on data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the group's Employment Monitor states over 1.2 million people workers have been impacted by Covid-19, almost a quarter of whom do not expect to return to their previous job when restrictions are lifted.

The group says more men than woman were in jobs impacted by Covid-19, however, more women expect to not return to work.


HSE data dump

The HSE has warned information, including patient records, may appear online following the passing of the ransom deadline set by the cyber gang responsible for the recent attack on the health services' IT systems.

The group, known as 'Wizard Spider', set Monday, May 24th as the deadline to receive the reported $20 million ransom in bitcoin, threatening to release the stolen data online if the sum was not received.

Despite the threats, the Government and health officials repeatedly stated a ransom would not be paid.

The HSE is worried the data may now appear online, however, chief operations officer Anne O'Connor said they will have to wait and see.

Ryanair flight grounding

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Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has described the forced landing in Belarus of a Ryanair flight on Sunday as “state-sponsored aviation piracy”.

Raman Pratasevich, who ran a popular messaging app that played a key role in helping organise protests against Belarus’ authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko, was on board the flight when it was diverted to the Belarusian capital, Minsk, while flying over that country.

Belarusian flight controllers had warned the plane crew of an alleged bomb threat and ordered it to land in Minsk, and a Belarusian fighter jet was scrambled to escort the airliner.

Shortly after the landing, the 26-year-old Pratasevich and his Russian girlfriend were led out of the plane.

July reopening

The Cabinet are due to decide on Friday if remaining sectors of the economy restricted due to Covid-19 can reopen in July.

Aviation, live events, including concerts and sporting events, and indoor hospitality are on the agenda this week, with Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath and Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris each indicating these areas would return in the coming weeks.

The Irish Times reports other Ministers also said the signs for reopening the remaining sectors of the economy are encouraging.

Pubs and restaurants are expected to be permitted to serve food and alcohol indoors from early July, while spectators may be allowed to attend selected sporting events, so long as the crowds do not exceed 5 per cent of the total capacity.

Restrictions loosened in the North

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The latest easing of the Covid-19 rules in the North has been hailed as an “enormous step forward” by the Economy Minister Diane Dodds.

Indoor hospitality and indoor visitor and cultural attractions may reopen from today, and people can meet inside private homes again, limited to six people from no more than two households.

Meanwhile, the limit on the size of outdoor gatherings has increased to 500, a move that was celebrated early on Monday by sea swimmers returning to the coast in large groups.

Vaccine hesitancy

Covid vaccine hesitancy is trending downwards in Ireland with just four per cent of the population planning to refuse a vaccine, according to the latest tracker survey.

The Ipsos MRBI survey for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) found the number of people who intend to get vaccinated or who have already received one has risen to 88 per cent.

The figure of 88 per cent – made up of 63 per cent planning to take a Covid vaccine and 26 per cent already vaccinated – is 13 points higher than the percentage of people who said in January that they would take a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the number of people who said they intend to refuse the vaccine has declined from seven per cent in January to four per cent in May.

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