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Jetting off on summer holidays this year is 'unrealistic': The key points you need to know from tonight's NPHET briefing

A round-up of NPHET’s press briefing at the Department of Health this evening.
Feb 1st 2021, 7:40 PM 60,116 125

PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS confirmed a further 1,062 of Covid-19 and 10 deaths in Ireland as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan Glynn led this evening’s press briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) addressing the Covid-19 crisis. 

This evening’s figures mean that there have now been a total of 197,553 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, along with 3,317 deaths. 

Here’s what was discussed at this evening’s briefing:

Plateau of cases

Professor Philip Nolan said that NPHET is now concerned that the rate of infection appears to have stopped declining. 

Nolan explained that there is serious concern at the “very high” rate of infection among the older, more vulnerable groups, despite infection numbers in these groups reducing. 

Numbers in hospitals are steadily decreasing, so too are the number of people receiving intensive care, he added.

So, why are not seeing the case numbers reduce? Nolan thinks the reasons for this are two-fold. He said the level of people staying at home is not the same as it was during the first lockdown of March/April last year. 

The reintroduction of the testing of close contacts is also another potential indicator of why we are not seeing the case numbers reduce. 

However, he added there is no evidence people have started to increase their level of social contact. 

“If we’re beginning to relax, it’s not the time, it’s time to keep going,” he warned. 


There were a lot of questions tonight directed at NPHET in relation to an interview Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary gave to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today.

Essentially, O’Leary accused NPHET of scaremongering and accused them of telling “scare stories” to the Irish people. 

Dr Holohan said that while he has nothing but “admiration” for O’Leary, he doesn’t’ accept the criticism levelled at him and NPHET. 

“We stand over our processes and our information,” Dr Holohan told the media. 

He also said that those people thinking they will be jetting off somewhere nice for their summer holidays can think again. 

“I don’t think we’re headed, in the summer, to any beaches other than those in our own locality.

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“We are in a situation now we have to focus on getting the vulnerable vaccinated, we have to put in place measures. It’s not likely to see a summer that is characterised by flying off to Europe. I don’t think that is realistic.”


It emerged this evening that special schools will reopen at 50% capacity on 11 February,

NPHET had advised the Government at the start of the year that reopening schools was a bad idea due to the high rate of infection, advice the Government took. 

However, there have been calls from various sectors to reopen special schools and classes for those with additional needs. 

Dr Holohan would not be drawn on questions regarding the Leaving Cert and the potential implications Covid will have on this year’s exams. 

He did say that “making progress on reducing the rate of transmission is not enough” to allow NPHET to contemplate the easing of restrictions. 

You can sign up to’s coronavirus newsletter below. Tomorrow’s edition will include further details from the briefing.'s coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here

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Garreth MacNamee


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