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Taoiseach: Covid-19 'a significant disruptor' in society but we have left the 'emergency phase'

Micheál Martin said he “can’t predict” what will happen in the autumn but that vaccination remains key.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Dublin this afternoon.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin in Dublin this afternoon.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that Covid-19 remains “a significant disruptor” in our society but again stressed that we have left the “emergency phase” of the pandemic.

Speaking this afternoon at the re-opening of the Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station in Dublin, Martin said he could not rule in or out the possibility of any restrictions being reintroduced but that vaccination is likely “the key weapon” this autumn. 

“I just can’t predict with certainty what will happen, all I can predict is uncertainty,” he said. 

Various sectors of the economy are currently being hit by people being unable to work due to Covid-19, with Martin making specific reference to the continued cancellation of flights due to Covid-hit airlines. 

“We’re going through different phases of Covid-19, I described it recently as that we’re now in a disruptive phase in the sense that Covid remains a significant disruptor, a disruptive influence,” Martin said.

One can see that in the health services, for example, over 800 people in hospital now have Covid, 50% have gone in for different reasons but all of that has an impact on hospitals. 

As of today there are 885 people in hospital with Covid-19, an increase from 627 people two weeks ago. In a statement to The Journal last week, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) also called for the HSE to resume publishing the number of healthcare workers infected.

Martin said today that Covid-19 variants are “not as virulent as they once were” but that levels of vaccination in the community needed to remain high. 

A second booster shot is currently being offered to people over 65 and people who are immunosuppressed with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee currently considering whether people under 65 should also be invited to get a second booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We will wait for NIAC’s advice in relation to the autumn period and in relation to whether for everybody to require a second booster, and I think that would be the key weapon in the fight against Covid for the autumn period,” he said. 

Last week, the government agreed to prepare draft legislation that would allow a mask-mandate to be introduced in specific settings if deemed necessary.

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No such plans are being considered at present, however, something Martin reiterated today.

“We’re making sure we have legislation, contingency planning through legislation that if we have to bring back mask-mandates for public transport, or indeed for retail, that we would be in a position to do that quickly. But again, we think we’ve moved out of the emergency phase, the public health advice is vaccination and personal responsibility in people taking care is the best approach right now.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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