The improving Covid-19 situation means maternity hospitals can begin easing visiting restrictions, the clinical director of the HSE Women and Infant’s Health Programme said.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has detailed the “significant impact” from vaccination of older people and healthcare workers on easing pressure on the health service.
It also credits public compliance for the “substantial decreases” in Covid case numbers.
Dr Peter McKenna said families and pregnant women have made “considerable sacrifices” during the pandemic.
Some maternity hospitals have slightly eased restrictions in recent days but there are still tight limits in place.
Asked what his message is now to maternity units, he said: “I would be asking hospitals to have a close look at their situation and bear in mind the community rate is falling, staff have been vaccinated. And hopefully, they will consider themselves in a position to become more liberal.” Each hospital should assess this individually, he said.
Dr McKenna cautioned that risks from Covid-19 are still high. At the weekend there were three pregnant women in Intensive Care Units with the virus.
Covid placentitis has been recorded 11 times in Ireland, including six stillbirths and one miscarriage since January.
The Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said there may be a link with the UK variant of Covid-19.
Dr McKenna said workplaces should assess safety for pregnant staff.
“It is very much dependant on the particular job. I think the imperative to avoid Covid is large. I think that the advent of Covid placentitis has increased this.
"In very general terms I would be surprised if occupational medicine were not very sympathetic to the needs of their pregnant workers.”
Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) has started welcoming partners to visit newborns for one hour at a time on one post-natal ward.
The hospital has launched a visitor’s app and will expand this in two weeks time, once they are sure there are no issues with the app.
However, despite the downward trend in cases, Dr Cillian De Gascun said: “We are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination.”
He warned of continued risks from the dominant UK variant, pointing to very high case numbers this week again in Canada and Europe.
He reported 24 cases of P1 Brazilian variant, 55 of B.1351 South African variant, and three B.1617 Indian variant.
A Covid-19 cases tracker run by GP Buddy echoes the downward trend in cases, Dr Darach O’Ciardha said.
He welcomed the return of screening programmes and called on sick people to visit their doctor. GPs have “significant concerns” about low numbers attending with potential cancers, arthritis and other chronic conditions, he said.
No further deaths were announced but 403 additional cases were confirmed.
Up to Saturday, there were 1.2m vaccine doses given, including 7.1% of the population fully vaccinated.