Video: Subsidised antigen tests delayed, hospitals under pressure, fuel prices soar

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Subsidised antigen tests delayed

Plans for the long awaited subsidised antigen testing regime have been delayed.

Draft plans for the scheme were drawn up by the Department of Health, with Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly expected to brief the Cabinet on the plan on Tuesday morning. However, this did not go ahead.

Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan said more time was needed “to get it right”.

There were indications that people were not using the tests correctly, he said, and it was important to get the correct information to people on how and when to use them.

The original plan sent to the coalition leaders envisaged a subsidy of €4 per test, bringing the cost of the tests to between €2 or €3 for consumers. This would cost around €31 million a month, or €93 million for the envisaged three-month scheme.

Hospitals under significant pressure

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Concerns have grown in recent days about the impact a rising number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is having on the Irish health service, as hospitals switch to surge capacity and cancel some scheduled surgeries.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday defended the efforts of the Governments to bolster the country’s intensive care beds, promising at least 340 by the end of next year.

Mary Lou McDonald accused the Government of being “a day late and a dollar short” on hospital capacity, amid growing pressure on the Irish health system.

Meanwhile, the HSE’s chief operations officer, Anne O’Connor has warned that cancelled procedures and a policy of not scheduling appointments because of Covid-19 will mean that waiting lists will get longer.

Mandatory sentences for people who attack Gardaí

Gardaí are calling for mandatory sentences for those convicted of attacking members of the force.

The Garda Representative Association has been making the call at its annual conference in Co Kerry.

It comes as new figures show 4,500 gardaí have been assaulted in the last five years.

Fuel prices soar

Average fuel prices for petrol and diesel are at a record high in Ireland, according to data collected by the AA.

The average price for unleaded petrol is now 172.6 cents per litre, while the average price for diesel is 163.3 cents per litre - the highest since the AA began recording the figures in 1991.

The figures equate to a 27 per cent increase in the price of petrol and a 28 per cent increase in the price of diesel fuel, compared to this time last year.

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