'Huge burden' on everyone to get virus numbers down as hospitalisations increase again

There are 214 people in ICU which is up by four on last night.
'Huge burden' on everyone to get virus numbers down as hospitalisations increase again

Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has warned that the Government cannot “take the foot off the brake” with regard to Covid restrictions “any time soon”.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals has risen slightly after decreasing the two previous days.

Today, there are 1,949 Covid patients in hospital - up 30 on yesterday.

Of these, there are 214 people in ICU which is up by four on last night.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin today confirmed the Government does not expect a relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions in February.

The Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parliamentary party meetings last night heard that the community transmission is too high to exit the current Level 5 restrictions.

Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has warned that the Government cannot “take the foot off the brake” with regard to Covid restrictions “any time soon”.

Moving from Level 5 to Level 3 restrictions in December had not been a sensible decision, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

While the recent slow reduction in the number of cases was good, but there was still a long way to go.

“It will take a long time to get the numbers really down.” 

There were serious questions about “how to take things forward” to keep the country safe for the rest of the year.

Dr Scally said he supported a Zero Covid policy but that it would require a lot of planning now.

“You can’t tell what decisions politicians will take.” 

The issues of the health and wellbeing of the public were not just about deaths and rise in numbers, but they were “extraordinarily important”.

The countries that had done the best were the ones that had kept the numbers “extraordinarily low” through strict restrictions, he said.

There was “a huge burden” on everyone to get the virus numbers down.“We don’t know when this is going to end.” 

Dr Scally again called for an all-island approach and for stricter travel restrictions to be fully implemented.

A vial of doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is checked.

A vial of doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is checked.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said the entire country should be given a vaccination by September under the latest plans from the government.

Mr Donnelly said that timeline assumes approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is dependent on getting enough supply from other companies.

It is expected 140,000 vaccinations will be completed by Sunday but that will reduce Ireland's current supply to extremely low levels.

Mr Donnelly says they will be trying to speed up the rate of vaccination but it is dependent on supply.

"The priority is to first vaccinate and protect the most vulnerable among us. To directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness.

"While we want to roll out our vaccine programme as quickly as possible, speed should not trump safety and confidence in our vaccination programme."

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