Video: Irish Covid response ‘exemplary’, Delta variant surges, weekend heatwave

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Exemplary pandemic response

The president of the European Commission has described Ireland’s handling of the pandemic in the last six months as “exemplary”.

President Ursula von der Leyen praised the performance of the vaccine rollout during her visit to Dublin.

Ms von der Leyen met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin today to discuss the State’s plan for projects to be funded by the EU’s recovery package.

The bilateral meeting was held at Technological University Dublin, Grangegorman, where they discussed Covid-19 and vaccines, EU/UK relations and the commission’s new “fit for 55” package of measures to support climate action.

Delta variant

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said plans to increase intensive care capacity are being considered to prepare for another surge in hospital admissions caused by the Delta variant.

While the vaccine rollout has offered considerable protection against severe disease to those who are fully vaccinated, concerns remain regarding the spread of the virus among unvaccinated people, whom HSE chief executive Paul Reid said are the “new vulnerable”.

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Speaking about the impact the Delta variant may have, Mr Donnelly said: “We don't know how bad it's going to get.

“We know there was [around] 1,000 cases yesterday, I think there's going to be around 1,200 cases today and I know that I was talking to [Prof] Philip Nolan this morning about over 200 people being in intensive care in a few months time.”

Covid hotspots

Inishowen and Derry are Ireland's Covid hotspots, according to the latest official figures.

Buncrana in Co Donegal has the highest infection rate on the island, with one in 93 people testing positive over the latest two-week period – 1,073 cases per 100,000 people.

Other areas in Co Donegal with high incidence include Carndonagh (849 per 100,000) and Letterkenny (346).

The next worst-affected area is neighbouring Derry City, with the BT48 postcode area reporting 1,004 cases per 100,000.

Troubles legacy

The North’s political leaders have held “robust conversations” with Northern Secretary Brandon Lewis over controversial UK government plans to ban prosecutions over Troubles-related offences.

The parties outlined their opposition to the proposals in a virtual meeting with Mr Lewis, which also included Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

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The meeting came as it was confirmed the Northern Ireland Assembly will be recalled next week from its summer recess to discuss concerns over what politicians and victims have described as a “de facto amnesty” for Troubles crimes.

Summer sunshine

Daytime temperatures are expected to soar to 27 degrees Celsius this weekend, as Ireland welcomes warm, dry and sunny weather.

The summery weather comes courtesy of a ridge of high pressure continuing to build over Ireland from the west, bringing with it a tropical maritime airmass.

Met Éireann has forecast that the settled weather will last through the weekend, and possibly for much of next week.

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