No immediate plan to extend Level 3 restrictions to other counties, says Donnelly

The Donegal situation was one that had arisen “very, very quickly” and to which a speedy response was required.
No immediate plan to extend Level 3 restrictions to other counties, says Donnelly

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, the Minister defended the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid, he said it had made things less confusing for people. Picture: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that there is no immediate plan to extend Level 3 restrictions to other counties.

The Donegal situation was one that had arisen “very, very quickly” and to which a speedy response was required.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, the Minister defended the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid, he said it had made things less confusing for people.

No other counties are being looked at “imminently” he added. The ‘roadmap’ explained restrictions clearly. When restrictions had been introduced in Laois, Offaly and Kildare people had been “very concerned and agitated” with the feeling that the measures had “come out of the blue.” 

Having the ‘roadmap’ meant that people knew the levels now operating in Donegal and Dublin and could say “the level is rising in my county, the positivity rate is going up, we may need to go to Level Three.” 

"Because of the Living with Covid plan people now knew what would happen." 

This measure had worked in other counties “and we can get the virus back down and open up everything again as much as we can.” 

Meanwhile, director-general of the HSE Paul Reid has said there is now a brief window of opportunity to make a difference to the transmission of Covid-19 and the HSE is trying to get across the message to people that “it’s time to sit up”.

"Nobody wants to go back to the situation there was in March," he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

"Lockdown kills the economy and society," he added.

Director-general of the HSE Paul Reid defended the country’s testing and tracing system saying 1.1m tests have been carried out to date. Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland
Director-general of the HSE Paul Reid defended the country’s testing and tracing system saying 1.1m tests have been carried out to date. Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

"The real discussion should be about how to stop people having to go to intensive care," he said when asked about the number of ICU beds.

"People are tired and frustrated, they want certainty which the HSE cannot give them.

“Everything that we do has to change,” he added.

Mr Reid defended the country’s testing and tracing system saying 1.1m tests have been carried out to date.

"Contact tracing right now is a balance between speed and time and the HSE is looking at the idea of tracing going back further than 48 hours.

"To do so will mean increasing resources, but if it is deemed necessary then the resources will be provided."

"Ireland is one of the few countries testing contacts," he said.

"It was about trying to find a compromise as new knowledge emerged all the time and had to be examined.

“We need to keep the economy and society open. We are still playing catch up in our response since lockdown.” "Every measure to keep society open must be taken," he said.

"The flu vaccine will be rolled out in two week batches over the next six week," he added.

The next phase of recruitment of extra staff for the health service will be “a big challenge” he acknowledged.

Mr Reid wanted to avoid taking people from one health care sector to work in another, such “cannibalisation” was to be avoided to protect sectors such as nursing homes and care homes.

When he took up his role, after 30 years in the private sector, his ambition was to effect change and to support Sláintecare. Covid had given the health service the opportunity to speed up the delivery of “lots of services.” 

"There had never been so much change, by so many people," so quickly, he said.

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