Video: Visas for Afghans, pause on easing restrictions, Mayo mountain search

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Humanitarian visas

Ireland is to offer up to 150 humanitarian visas to people from Afghanistan, in addition to the 45 visas approved in recent days.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin issued a statement on Tuesday stating he is "deeply concerned by the unfolding situation in Afghanistan".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said there are 20 Irish nationals in Afghanistan, most of whom wish to leave the country. He said work is underway to get them back to Ireland, coordinating efforts with the EU, UK and US.

Meanwhile, Meath woman, Aoife MacManus, who is in the Afghan capital Kabul, said she is confident she will be on a flight home within 24-48 hours.

Covid concern

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has raised concern about increasing daily case numbers of Covid-19.

Confirming 1,558 new cases of the virus on Monday evening, Dr Holohan said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) are "monitoring the spread of the virus with some concern".

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Nphet member Dr Mary Favier said a further easing of restrictions may not go ahead if case numbers continue to rise.

“If we continue to see a rise in Covid numbers over the next two or three weeks, I think we won't be in a position to ease restrictions any further and that will have to wait another two or three weeks,” Dr Favier said.

The Government is due to announce the next stage in the easing of restrictions at the end of August.

Alcohol prices

The weekly alcohol limit for men can be purchased for less than €8 in Ireland, while the corresponding limit for women can be bought for less than €5.

According to Alcohol Action Ireland's (AAI) annual survey, the 'low-risk' weekly limit set by the HSE of 17 standard drinks for men and 11 for women, can be purchased in off-licences for as little as €7.65 and €4.95 respectively.

AAI spokesperson Eunan McKinney said the "wide availability of cheap alcohol" is a driving factor behind the country's "continuing difficulty with alcohol".

From January 2022, the State will introduce minimum unit pricing which will mean stores will no longer be able to sell alcoholic drinks below a certain price, which is set to be 10 cent per gram.

Missing hiker

A search is underway at Mwellrea Mountain, Co Mayo after a man failed to return from a hike on Monday.

The man, aged in his mid-30s and who is originally from the area but has been living in the UK for the past few years, was last heard from on Monday afternoon.

Members of Mayo Mountain Rescue and Gardaí were part of the group involved in the search on Tuesday morning.

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