The head of the HSE has welcomed the return of Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, to work saying that “it’s good to see him back”.
Speaking at the HSE’s weekly Covid briefing in Dublin, Paul Reid said while he had heard the news on Wednesday he had not yet spoken to Dr Holohan, who has been on compassionate leave since July 2.
That leave was taken as a result of his wife Emer, who has been living with a form of blood cancer since 2012, entering palliative care.
While Mrs Holohan is understood to be still receiving care, her husband is expected to return to work from Monday, with health minister Stephen Donnelly earlier stating he is “looking forward” to working with him.
“I’m very pleased that he’s in a position to return to work, I’m sure we will continue on as we have done for the last while,” Mr Reid said yesterday evening.
While Dr Holohan’s return is imminent, it’s understood that he did not attend yesterday afternoon’s meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team.
The CMO, whose role had been assumed by his deputy Dr Ronan Glynn since July, had chaired the first six months of meetings of NPHET since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in January.
Having become a familiar face to the nation via the daily NPHET updates screened live each evening, Dr Holohan had nevertheless held a sometimes tense relationship with his opposite number in the HSE Mr Reid.
That strain was best exemplified by the letter Mr Reid wrote to the Department of Health in mid-April bemoaning the announcement by Dr Holohan that Ireland would be aiming to conduct 100,000 Covid tests per week by the beginning of May. Mr Reid said the announcement “took no account of what can be achieved by when”.
That 100,000 capacity figure was eventually reached at the beginning of June after a series of false starts, though the capacity itself has yet to be fully utilised.