Rise in Covid cases ‘very concerning’, says Martin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the recent rise in Covid-19 cases was “very concerning” and that it could not be guaranteed restrictions would not be reintroduced.

Mr Martin said modelling from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has suggested the current rise in cases would peak at the end of November.

Speaking from Cop26 in Glasgow, Mr Martin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland the use of antigen testing was increasing and if people collectively remained cautious “we can avoid the need to have a backward return to restrictions”.

He said he had spoken to Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennet who told him that Israel’s booster campaign had been very successful and impactful on the latest wave of the virus there.

“No one can guarantee anything,” Mr Martin said. He added that Covid-19 vaccines work and appealed to anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so to avoid severe illness.

There were 483 people in hospital with Covid-19 on Monday night, with 91 of those in ICU. The latest figures from the HSE show University Hospital Limerick has the highest number of Covid-19 patients with 43, followed by St James’s Hospital (42) and the Mater Hospital (36).

A further 2,855 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the State on Monday.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 vaccine booster shots are to be given to healthcare workers from next weekend.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly approved the extension of the booster programme to healthcare workers on foot of a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on Monday.

“Niac has advised that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used [for the boosters] regardless of the initial vaccine course [mRNA or adenoviral vaccine],” Mr Donnelly said.

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