AN TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has warned that some restrictions may have to be re-introduced following data from the National Public Health Team which suggested that the current rise in Covid cases is set to continue until the end of the month.
The Government expressed grave concern after the latest figures to emerge from Ireland revealed 2,855 new cases in the last 24 hours, 493 people in hospital, of which 91 are currently in intensive care units, according to the Department of Health.
The number of Covid cases is up an alarming 20% on last week’s 7-day average, and with the winter cold snap expected to advance the trend even further over the coming weeks, ministers are keeping a close eye on whether restrictions can continue to be eased.
However, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Martin struck a somewhat more positive tone, stressing that the use of antigen testing was increasing and that if people “collectively remain cautious we can avoid the need to have a backward return to restrictions.”
Mr Martin was also cautiously optimistic about the prospects of introducing a booster programme, citing conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet about the difference made by their campaign to contain another wave of the virus.
The Government are set to prioritise frontline health workers in particular, following consultation with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, who have said that a programme to boost 270,000 health staff will begin this weekend.
The boosters will consist of either one of the mRNA jabs that have been tested – Pfizer or Moderna – and will be offered to health staff six months after their original vaccination.