Video: Covid recommendations, boosters ramp up and 'must be won' Lotto

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Nphet recommendations

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he expects further Covid-19 recommendations from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) around socialisation and travel due to ongoing concern over the Omicron variant.

Nphet is due to meet on Thursday morning to consider the current Covid-19 situation.

Currently, the Omicron variant accounts for 14 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the State. Mr Varadkar said he expects it to become dominant as early as next week.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin has urged people to “hold the collective nerve” over the threat from the variant, describing this phase of the pandemic as “different” with the vaccine booster jab being rolled out across Ireland.

There are no plans to close schools early ahead of the Christmas break, according to the Department of Education. Some health experts and school principals have suggested that early closure could limit the spread of Covid-19.

Booster campaign ramps up

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General practitioners are hoping to double the number of Covid-19 booster vaccines they can administer from the current level of 80,000 per week.

Dr Mary Favier, Covid lead with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), said GPs will be delaying all non-essential work to focus on delivering the booster campaign in the coming weeks.

The Government is reportedly planning to overhaul the rollout of boosters over the coming weeks with healthcare and public sector staff being redeployed in an effort to tackle a potential wave of Omicron infections.

It is expected that children in high-risk categories will begin receiving the vaccine from December 20th, followed by other cohorts on January 10th. People in their 30s and 40s are also expected to hear before Christmas as to when they will receive their additional dose.

'Must be won' Lotto

National Lottery executives are seeking to change the game's rules to allow for must-win draws after a certain period of time.

It comes as the Lotto jackpot was last won in early June with the top prize rolling over ever since, prompting Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan to call for an urgent probe into the “unwinnable” jackpot.

Premier Lotteries Ireland chief executive Andrew Algeo is to appear before the Oireachtas finance committee on Wednesday, where he is set to call for regulatory approval for changes that will ensure “an improbably long wait for a capped jackpot win cannot occur again”.

The company is proposing that a draw would have to be won, if not by someone who matched all six numbers then by someone who matched five, after a certain period of time elapsing without the jackpot being claimed.

'Hooded men' investigation

The UK Supreme Court in London has ruled that a decision by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to discontinue an investigation into the torture of the 'hooded men' was unlawful.

The seven justices ruled on the matter relating to a decision made by the North's police service in 2014 regarding the 1971 case.

The 'hooded men' were subjected to a series of controversial interrogation techniques when they were interned without trial by the British army.

The techniques included hooding and being put in stress positions, forced to listen to white noise and deprived of sleep, food and water.

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