The state’s public health team will meet today to discuss tightening the rules with restrictions on major sporting events and hospitality as well as warnings regarding large family gatherings and house parties at home. ‘study.
With just over a week to go before Christmas, alarm is growing after the UK yesterday recorded the highest daily total of confirmed Covid-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 78,610 new cases reported , an increase of 32% in one day.
New preliminary modeling has been presented to the government on the future trajectory of the Omicron variant, with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly calling the situation “very difficult”.
Ministers have been warned of a likely massive rise in infections as Omicron grabs optimistic scenarios that the number of hospitals and intensive care facilities were as high as they were last January, but far worse pessimistic scenarios.
Vaccine booster program
Mr Donnelly was speaking as he announced a significant expansion of the state’s vaccine booster program last night.
Despite the Omicron spread, TÃ¡naiste Leo Varadkar said last night at a meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that schools would not close early and would reopen as planned next year.
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The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is expected to meet this evening to consider what additional steps can be taken to reduce socialization in the face of the most transmissible variant.
Ministers expect to tighten some restrictions after Nphet’s meeting, but sources say there is a feeling that harsh lockdown-like measures are unlikely to be considered.
People may be urged to avoid large gatherings and cut off close contacts as Christmas approaches. Nphet will also likely discuss rules on tightening restrictions on sporting events over Christmas and around large family gatherings and house parties. People may also be urged to increase their use of antigen testing, particularly before meeting elderly relatives.
When it comes to travel, the government favors an EU-wide approach, and tough new restrictions are not expected, as Omicron is expected to be the dominant variant next week.
Cabinet is expected to meet tomorrow to discuss any further recommendations from Nphet and decide whether or not to accept that advice. There has been speculation that reception opening hours could be reviewed, with the possibility of an earlier closure under consideration.
Restaurant Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said last night that any new restrictions on hospitality “will have a devastating economic impact on businesses.”
In a meeting between coalition leaders and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and Professor Philip Nolan on Tuesday evening, politicians were warned that Omicron would spread rapidly and that while vaccines would provide protection, caution would be bet.
As general practitioners prepare to step up booster vaccinations for all age groups and patients, Mr Donnelly announced last night that the 15-minute observation period after a person has received a vaccine Covid-19 was to be suspended.
This will speed up the vaccination campaign as the government aims to administer 300,000 vaccines per week after the Christmas period.
Starting December 27, people in their 40s will begin to be offered dates for their next dose. Mr Donnelly said: “Based on what we are seeing in the UK, it is safe to assume that we are looking at a very high number of cases in the coming weeks.”