Video: Cabinet ponder Covid measures, Mr Moonlight appeal denied, insurance profits soar

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Muireann Duffy

Covid surge

The Taoiseach has warned the Covid situation in Ireland will get worse before it gets better as the incidence of the virus continues to rise across the country.

Projections from public health experts shown to the Government predict case numbers could peak by the end of November or in early December, while the number of patients in ICU could reach 500 by the end of the month.

Following a presentation by the HSE on Monday evening, detailing the strain being put on the health system, Micheál Martin said "quick action" was needed to avoid hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Cabinet deliberations

Cabinet is meeting to discuss further measures to address high case numbers, including a more widespread return of working from home and the use of Covid certificates at venues such as gyms and hairdressers.

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It is understood a midnight closing time will be imposed on pubs and restaurants, less than a month after a previous curfew of 11.30pm was removed.

Last week, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) recommended that workers should be asked to work remotely where possible and that people engaging in high-risk activities, such as going to bars or nightclubs, should take two antigen tests weekly.

Government Ministers are expected to finalise plans to subsidise antigen tests, making them more affordable in order to encourage their use.

Booster vaccines

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is expected to clear the way for the rollout of Covid booster vaccines to people aged in their 50s.

Booster jabs are currently being offered to people over the age of 60, those with weakened immune systems and healthcare workers.

Calls to extend the rollout beyond these groups come amid fears that immunity offered by the vaccine may be waning.

Mr Moonlight appeal

Patrick Quirke has lost his appeal against his conviction for murdering popular DJ Bobby 'Mr Moonlight' Ryan, whose body was found in a disused slurry tank on a farm leased by Quirke.

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected more than 50 grounds of appeal argued by lawyers for Quirke during lengthy submissions late last year.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, delivering the judgement on behalf of the three-judge appeal court, said he was not persuaded by any of the arguments made on Quirke's behalf.

Quirke (51) was convicted in 2019 of the murder of Mr Ryan (52) at Fawnagowan in Co Tipperary. Mr Ryan disappeared on June 3rd, 2011 after he left his girlfriend, Mary Lowry's home early in the morning.

Motor insurance profits

Motor insurers in 2020 had their biggest year for profitability since 2009, according to a report from the Central Bank, which showed operating profits soared to €163 million.

The Private Motor Insurance Report, which uses data from the National Claims Information Database reaching back to 2009, shows the operating profit figure represented 12 per cent of total income for 2020.

Decreases in both the frequency and average claim cost per policy were also noted, falling by 26 and 20 per cent respectively, which was said to be on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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