Covid Ireland update: Taoiseach, Tanaiste and NPHET issue nervous soundings about reopening society
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has urged the country to go “back to basics” with Covid hygiene to help beat back Covid.
And the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, has said that an enhanced booster programme could also be crucial in the battle to stop Covid taking over again.
The grim prospect of a return to lockdown ahead of Christmas is now looking ominous if things don’t improve.
The Government leaders’ comments came after it emerged this week that the Government is beginning to worry about the promised easing of restrictions next Friday, October 22nd.
The Taoiseach said on Wednesday night that he “cannot guarantee” that restrictions will lift on schedule next Friday.
The return of nightclubs and increased crowds at sporting events are now in the firing line and there has been talk of retaining the Covid pass condition for access to pubs and restaurants.
Case numbers have been topping 2,000 daily frequently in recent days, with the numbers in hospital hovering around 400 every day.
The Taoiseach told the Irish Mirror outside Government Buildings on Thursday afternoon: “In relation to restrictions, no decisions have been made.
“We’ve made great progress as a country in reopening society.
“Thousands of people are back at work, whole sectors have been reopened and we have vaccines.
“We will make a decision based on advices that we will receive over the next couple of days, and discussions that will take place between members of the Government, in Cabinet, with officials.
“It (Covid) has taken a turn for the worse in the past week, but we have the vaccines.”
Mr Martin was asked by the Mirror if he agreed with Professor Philip Nolan of NPHET, and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who both compared those who go out into society with Covid symptoms, or won’t get vaccinated, to drunk drivers.
He added: “I use my own language in terms of articulating to people the need to take vaccines.
“I’m a strong advocate for vaccines.
“Historically, in terms of modern medicines, vaccines have worked in terms of preventing a whole range of diseases and protecting mankind.
“I think these vaccines do work in terms of protecting people from severe illness, from hospitalisation, from death.
“And I would urge people who haven’t been vaccinated to take their vaccines.
“I’m very conscious that we haven’t used coercion and yet we have one of the highest vaccine rates across the world.
“So I still believe that if we speak to people and persuade people that it’s not just in their own interest, but it’s in the best interests of those they love and those that they live with to get vaccinated because they do work and they do protect people against illness.
“That’s my approach to this.”
Mr Varadkar said if those refusing to take a Covid vaccine took one there’d be “no question” about the lifting of the last few lockdown measures next week.
The former practising doctor also said we would see the numbers presenting in hospitals halved, to around 200, if the remaining unvaxxed stepped forward.
And Mr Varadkar added that a ramped-up booster jabs scheme could beat back Covid.
He pointed to Israel as a precedent saying that the Middle East country had successfully defeated a new wave of the Delta variant with an enhanced booster programme.
The Tánaiste was speaking in the Dáil on Thursday afternoon, where he issued a plea to the last 300,000 unvaccinated people over age 12 in the country to come forward and get the jab.
Mr Varadkar said: “We’re waiting on advice from NIAC, I hope that comes very soon, in relation to the wider booster programme.
“We know that in Israel where they had a return of Delta and they got that return of Delta back down again, under control, with a very extensive booster programme and I think the case for that (here) is stronger than ever.
“I don’t know when the rapid testing report (from NIAC too) is due, but I will find out and I’ll get back to you on that,” Mr Varadkar told People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, who was questioning him on the boosters issue in the Dáil.
The Tánaiste added: “But finally, on people that aren’t vaccinated yet, vaccines are still available and vaccine centres are still open.
“It is a personal choice, but the truth is that everyone was fully vaccinated in Ireland, we’d probably have about 25 in ICU today and about 200 in hospital and there wouldn’t be any question about easing restrictions on the 22nd (of October).
“Yes, it is a personal choice, but it does have an impact on other people.”
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