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Reintroduction of Covid restrictions cannot be ruled out, CMO warns

The reintroduction of Covid-19 restrictions cannot be ruled out, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has warned.

In a letter sent to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, published on Tuesday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that the pandemic is not over.

On Tuesday, the Government set out a plan for easing of Covid-19 restrictions from Friday that will nonetheless see some remaining in place until February 2022.

“Over the course of the last two weeks we have seen a worsening of the Covid situation,” Taoiseach Micheal Martin said.

“These figures are a cause of concern and a timely reminder of how dangerous this virus is.”

The Government had hoped to see the lifting of the vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions from October 22.

Mr Martin said: “The progress we have made together is real and it has to be protected.

“The changes we have made gives us the space to make sure that the next steps we take is safe.”

In the letter, Dr Holohan said: “Disease incidence across the country is high and increasing.

“The national seven-day average of daily cases has increased from 1,258 two weeks ago to 1,744 as of today, while the 14-day incidence per 100,000 population has increased from 378 to 466 over the same time period.”

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He said that there was a “worsening disease profile” in Ireland, with the future trajectory of the virus “very uncertain”.

Dr Holohan said that the conditions had not been met that could permit Nphet to advise the Government to move forward with the easing of the vast majority of restrictions, as hoped.

“The Nphet concluded that the epidemiological situation has deteriorated and is now uncertain and precarious,” he said.

He said that serious pressure remained on the health service.

According to Dr Holohan, the highly transmissible delta variant has made suppressing the virus even more difficult.

“The Nphet cautions that the re-imposition of public health restrictive measures may be warranted should the application of the above measures not have sufficient effect on the profile of disease,” he wrote to the health minister.

“In this regard, compliance with basic public health measures by the general public and across sectors will be critical.”

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