329 Covid cases confirmed as Government dismiss calls to speed up reopening

329 Covid cases confirmed as Government dismiss calls to speed up reopening

There had been calls to speed up the reopening as the vaccination programme has accelerated and Covid deaths have dropped but Paschal Donohoe has called for patience. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) reported 329 confirmed cases today as the finance minister says the Government is sticking to its plan to ease restrictions in July.

There are 57 Covid patients in hospitals around the country today - three fewer than yesterday.

Of those Covid patients in hospital, there are 19 in ICU, down from 23 yesterday.

There had been calls to speed up the reopening as the vaccination programme has accelerated and Covid deaths have dropped but Paschal Donohoe has called for patience.

While he said it understandable that people would like more things to open up quicker, it is important that the pace of the reopening is right.

"I believe the next few weeks in which we are asking the country to bear with us until we get to early July is really the right thing to do from a public health point of view," said Mr Donohoe.

Intense meeting as Nphet defend stance on antigen testing to Oireachtas committee

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says Nphet is always willing to review its position. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says Nphet is always willing to review its position. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Nphet has spent the day defending its stance on antigen testing.

Members were before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to outline why the rapid tests have not been endorsed for international travel.

The intense nature of the meeting did not go unnoticed by both sides of the discussion with a number of ministers commenting on the 'combative' nature of discussions.

Committee members, having been told just last week by a Harvard Medical Professor that antigen testing is more effective than PCR for international travel demanded answers from Nphet.

Virologist Dr Cillian De Gascun said there is no evidence to back up this claim and said it was merely an opinion.

Immunologist Professor Mary Keogan explained there are no studies validating the use of antigen testing for aviation.

"In order to do a validation study in a sector, the sector has to be functioning. We cannot do a validation study while international travel is shut down," said Prof Keogan.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says Nphet is always willing to review its position.

Dr Glynn said there is "no reason in the world" why they would not support the use of antigen testing where it brings an additional level of safety.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that we give advice that is based in science. That we don't say that an event or activity that is otherwise unsafe at a given point in time given the prevailing epidemiological situation should go ahead just because there is antigen testing," he said.

Dr Glynn said that if, in the future, scientific evidence or real world use of the tests proved it is more effective then Nphet would promote the use of the tests.

Nphet pointed out that come July 19, the issue will be less relevant, as vaccinated people will not be required to have test to travel.

EU members agree to lift travel restrictions on US tourists 

The European Union (EU) is recommending that member countries start lifting restrictions on tourists from the United States.

EU members agreed on Wednesday to add the United States to the list of countries from which restrictions on non-essential travel should be lifted.

The move was adopted during a meeting in Brussels of permanent representatives to the 27-nation bloc.

The recommendation is non-binding, and national governments have authority to require test results or vaccination records and to set other entry conditions.

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