Plan now for winter, Holohan warns Taoiseach as 1,501 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed

Plan now for winter, Holohan warns Taoiseach as 1,501 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed
Dr Tony Holohan told ministers to plan for both Covid-19 and flu this winter (Brian Lawless/PA)

There have been an additional 1,501 cases of Covid-19 confirmed this evening, as health officials warned the Government to start planning for another winter living with the virus.

Today's figures also show a further rise in the number of hospital patients who have tested positive for the virus at 169. This compares to 106 people in hospital on this day last week.

The number of patients in intensive care units with Covid-19 now stands at 23. 

Earlier today, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan gave a presentation to politicians at a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC). 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Dr Holohan stressed “the need to start planning for the winter period in terms of the protections we can put in place" during his presentation. 

He said the winter could bring fresh challenges as the country deals with the normal flu season, alongside the Covid pandemic and the more transmissible Delta variant.

“We have to be cautious. We have to be careful," Mr Martin said.

 The Taoiseach said we have reopened society "very significantly" and have to "protect that" now.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin hosted the meeting today (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Mr Martin appealed to people to be patient as the vaccine programme continues.

“Is it too much to ask that we wait another number of weeks to get into a really strong protective situation vis-a-vis our society with a very high numbers of vaccinations?”

On Friday morning, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, warned that people need to “understand the level of risk in their local area”.

Donegal, Louth and Galway are among the counties with the highest 14-day incidence rate.

Local areas with the highest incidence rate include Carndonagh, Buncrana, Galway City Central, Westport and Donegal.

Walk-in vaccination centres open 

The first of Ireland’s walk-in vaccination centres opened to the public on Friday morning, with more set to deliver jabs over the bank holiday weekend.

Damien McCallion, the HSE’s national director and lead for the vaccination programme, said the “rationale” for the centres is that “as we move towards the end of this stage of the programme we’re conscious that we want to try and maximise the number of people and give people the maximum opportunity to get vaccinated”.

Most clinics will open for walk-ins on Saturday, Mr McCallion told RTÉ radio.

“We’re conscious that we’re in the holiday season, so people from one part of the country, for example Dublin, may be holidaying in Clare or Kerry or wherever, can turn up in those centres where they’re holidaying,” he said.

Anyone arriving at a walk-in centre will need to take photo ID, and anyone aged 16 and 17 can take a copy of their birth certificate.

Mr McCallion said 16- and 17-year-olds do not need parental consent to receive the vaccine.

He said he expects children aged between 12 and 16 to be offered a vaccination in August.

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