Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said the Government is “concerned” about the rise in Covid-19 case numbers and the country would be in lockdown if vaccines weren’t effective.
But Mr Martin would not say what the Government’s plan is if we can’t get the disease under control and said there is “little point in speculating” what could have to happen.
He said “what is worrying” is that across Europe “we are looking at a wave in respect of Covid-19 and the incidence of cases.”
He said the Government would keep matters under review but would not be drawn on whether restrictions would need to be reimposed if their current plan does not work.
He said the “three key” measures that the Government hopes will drive down transmission are people changing their behaviour, vaccine protection and the booster programme.
He said: “Ireland’s vaccination rate is the bulwark against severe illness, hospitalisations and ICUs.
“Without that vaccination we would have been in lockdown, there is no doubt [with] the high incidence of cases.
“The bottom line is this, I’ve outlined the three key areas; the booster campaign, the bulwark that vaccinations so far has represented in terms of testing and tracing and use of antigen testing and also in terms of broader collective societal behaviour to keep the lid on this.
“The booster campaign is important in terms of all of those aged over 60 and in terms of healthcare workers.
“It’s early yet but some evidence that the booster programme is already having an impact in terms of incidence in the over 80s and indeed the nursing homes.
“The more widespread use of antigen testing is a further weapon we’re using in addition to PCR testing because testing and tracing capacity remains important and serial testing in nursing homes also and then behaviour in terms of all of us individually and collectively, just moderating ou behaviour to keeping the lid on the increase in cases.”
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NPHET have said they are now not sure when exactly they expect the peak of the virus to drop off.
Speaking to reporters at Government Buildings on Thursday, Mr Martin said: “The earlier models from NPHET were suggesting that this wave could peak towards the end of November.
“To be fair they cautioned and caveated that by saying there is a lot of uncertainty around this.
“We remain concerned about the increase in cases.
“Hospitalisations and numbers in ICUs at the moment seem to have stabilised over the last week.
“We’ll be keeping a very close eye on that so that’s where we are right now and again we’ll monitor the roll out of the booster campaign and see what the impact that is having in terms of severe illness and on hospitalisation and ICUs.
“We will keep this under review and also will be in consultation with public health, the CMO and his team.”
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