Video: HSE decryption latest, vaccine registration and tax increases

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Decryption tool verified

The decryption key offered to the HSE following last week's cyberattack has been verified as genuine following examination by cybersecurity experts and the National Cybersecurity Centre (NCSC).

However, despite working, it is unlikely to significantly speed up the restoration of the health service's IT systems as it has been described as "buggy" and "flawed".

It's been less than 24 hours since it emerged that the cyber gang targeting the HSE had provided the tool to Irish authorities — one it claimed will allow them to repair their IT systems.

The gang behind the health service attack is still threatening to share and sell information, including personal data relating to patients, on the darknet if a ransom is not paid.

Hospital services

The Health Minister also said on Friday that while some machines in voluntary hospitals are working, radiology, oncology and laboratory services remain disrupted following last week’s cyberattack.

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Two emergency medicine consultants have warned that emergency departments are facing continued delays due to the cyberattack on the health service.

Dr Emily O’Connor, emergency medicine consultant at Connolly Hospital in Dublin, said doctors at the hospital's emergency department were currently using a whiteboard to coordinate treatment of patients.

Covid latest

A further 524 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The country's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said the team of health experts were “concerned” about a coronavirus variant first identified in India.

In a media briefing on Friday afternoon, Nphet confirmed that the number of cases of the variant identified in Ireland had now increased to 72 and warned it could impact the further easing of restrictions.

It comes as a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert believes Ireland will have to re-impose regional restrictions due to the variant.

Vaccine rollout

People aged 47 or older can register for a Covid-19 vaccine from today, while the portal will open further over the weekend for people aged 46 and 45.

Pfizer is to begin producing a key ingredient for its Covid-19 vaccine at an Irish facility for the first time, with the Grange Castle plant in west Dublin “contributing to the worldwide supply” of the jab.

The European Union has cemented its support for Pfizer/BioNTech and its novel vaccine technology by agreeing to a massive contract extension for a potential 1.8 billion doses until 2023.

The jab developed by the companies is expected to be up to 75 per cent effective against a coronavirus variant first detected in India.

Higher tax recommended

Higher rates of income tax, VAT and property tax may be needed to fund future government spending, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned.

In a new report, the think-tank said future spending pressures combined with potential declines in corporation and motor tax receipts were likely to result in higher taxes in the years ahead.

While increasing tax should be avoided until the economy has recovered from the pandemic, it said increases in income tax, VAT or the local property tax could “raise significant sums of revenue”.

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