Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced the next phase of relaxing Covid restrictions, with some measures such as mask wearing and Covid vaccination certs to remain in place.
The Government had hoped to lift the majority of Covid restrictions on October 22nd, but the plan has been amended due to rising Covid cases and hospital admissions — with the changes in full explained here.
Under the changes to reopening there will also be an “enhanced” role for antigen testing, with antigen tests used for fully vaccinated people who are close contacts and have no symptoms.
The Taoiseach said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) had considered recommending the pausing of reopening for a number of weeks, but decided against it as the country will have to deal with the evolving Covid situation.
The reintroduction of Covid restrictions also cannot be ruled out, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned in a letter sent to the Minister for Health.
Delta wave peak
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland is not past the peak of the Delta variant wave and said it is likely the country is now experiencing a “twin peak”.
According to Nphet projections, case numbers will peak at the end of October or November. Hospitalisations will peak in mid-November, and ICU numbers will peak at around 100 to 150 people at the end of November.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has warned that rising Covid-19 figures will “get worse before it gets better”. The current five-day case average is approximately 1,700, he said, adding that he expects Tuesday’s cases to be in excess of 2,000.
The most pessimistic modelling indicated that numbers could rise to 800 to 1,000 hospitalisations per day and 150 to 200 in ICU, which would result in the widespread cancellation of other procedures, he added.
A booster vaccination programme for people aged 60 and over will begin “immediately” following a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has urged the Government to extend the vaccine booster programme to healthcare workers.
The group said that last month the number of Covid infections increased amongst healthcare workers, with nurses and midwives representing the highest cohort of those infected. In the last month, over 371 nurses and midwives were infected.
No date has been given for when healthcare workers can expect to receive a booster jab.
Nine-year-old awarded €8 million
Cork University Maternity Hospital has apologised unreservedly to a 9-year-old girl for the life changing injuries caused to her at the time of her birth.
The apology was read out in the High Court as Caitlin Twomey, from Ballincollig, Co Cork, settled her legal action with one of the highest interim settlements of €8 million. Damages in the case will be assessed when the case comes back before the court in ten years' time.
Caitlin’s counsel Dr John O’Mahony SC with Cian O’Mahony BL told the court the little girl has cerebral palsy, is unable to safely walk unaided and can only say some words. By the time she was seven years old, the little girl had only two words: go and dad.
Today in the courts
A man who used a wooden post to strike a woman on the head during an anti-lockdown rally in Dublin last year has been jailed for two years.
Meanwhile, the operator of a Grafton Street footwear and clothing store is asking the High Court to declare it has no liability for more than half a million euro in rent during 253 days of pandemic-ordered closures.
Separately, a convicted sex offender who burgled three homes in a gated retirement complex in the middle of lockdown has been jailed for 45 months.
In another case, a robber who turned up at a local solicitor’s office to admit to the raid because he wanted to be put in prison has received fully suspended sentences.
Finally, a State watchdog has dismissed a discrimination claim taken by a Co Meath woman who was asked to leave a branch of Specsavers during a Covid-19 mask row.