Ireland is at a point of “unease and apprehension” in its fight against Covid-19, the chief executive of the health service has said, as the Department of Health confirmed a further 304 cases of the virus have been detected as of midnight on Wednesday.
There are now 47 people in hospital with Covid, 13 of whom are being treated in intensive care.
As of midnight, Wednesday 23rd June, we are reporting 304* confirmed cases of #COVID19.
13 in ICU. 47 in hospital.
*Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) June 24, 2021
Speaking at the weekly HSE briefing earlier today, Paul Reid said there is “no certainty” when trying to predict what might happen with the coronavirus and its variants.
However, he said the latest data shows the incidence of the virus and case numbers are continuing to decline.
Mr Reid said there had been a 22 per cent reduction in the total number of cases in the past 14 days.
Some 84 per cent of the cases were confirmed in people under the age of 45, which Mr Reid said demonstrated the continued and strong benefits of the vaccination programme.
The 14-day incidence rate in the country remains below 100 per 100,000 population. On Thursday afternoon, there were 47 people in hospital with the virus, 13 of whom were in intensive care.
‘Vaccines are definitely winning’
“The vaccines are definitely winning against the virus, but by any stretch, it’s far too early to be declaring victory, or indeed taking a lap of honour at this stage,” Mr Reid said.
“From the health service perspective the truth is we don’t really know precisely how the Delta variant and other possible variants will affect us at this stage.”
Mr Reid said the HSE was administrating about 300,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines every week and was now on a firm trajectory to end what has been a “bleak” period.
He also told the briefing that the HSE would be outlining the latest data to the Government to assist its decision-making process when it comes to the easing of restrictions.
The Cabinet is to decide next Thursday whether it will give the green light for the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions next month. Indoor hospitality is due to resume on July 5th.
“We don’t envy them,” Mr Reid said. “It’s not an easy job, as they have to balance range of considerations and inputs they will get.
“We all do want to keep everyone safe and well. And at the same time we all want a normal life restored as quickly as we possibly can.”
Earlier, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said international travel would resume on July 19th as planned — despite concerns over the Delta variant.
Mr Ryan said he believed Nphet’s advice next week will focus on the planned easing on July 5th.
Speaking in Howth, north Dublin, Mr Ryan said: “The 19th July, the vast majority of people who are vaccinated coming in or going out will be able to travel unimpeded.”
He added: “Talking to the airline industry, what we said is we didn’t want to have a stop-start, we wanted to make sure we got things back on a regular step-by-step basis.
“So on 19th July when those Covid certs come into action we will change the rules from essential travel only to allowing all sorts of other travel – that will operate.
“Everyone is dying to travel to visit friends and family and for work and have a holiday and we want to see that back. But we want to see it in a way that’s not stop-start, we get the public health aspect right.”
Mr Ryan said the plan was working so he did not think it should be changed.
Short reopening pause could avoid another lockdown…
“We are part of EU and we have agreed that we are best following EU approach. We will listen to Nphet but there is strength in following a common approach,” he said.
“Doing it in uniform makes sense, it makes it predictable and makes it easy to manage, much better to follow the EU approach.”
It comes as a member of Nphet said that two to three weeks of a pause on reopening would make a “substantial difference” in preventing a surge of the Delta variant and another lockdown in Ireland.