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NPHET recommends asking older people to limit time outdoors and to reduce numbers at home gatherings

Health officials have also recommended that sports be returned to behind-closed-doors.

Image: Julien Behal

Updated Aug 18th 2020, 3:00 PM

HEALTH OFFICIALS HAVE advised the government to issue new guidelines asking older and vulnerable people to limit their time outdoors, advising people to reduce the numbers of people they have in their homes and to return all sports to behind closed doors. 

A full meeting of Cabinet is due later today where ministers are set to discuss recommendations to curb the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) met yesterday to consider a range of issues, including outbreaks at meat processing factories, with blanket testing of workers to begin this week. 

Health officials have expressed concern at rising case numbers in recent weeks. Yesterday they confirmed 56 new cases of the disease in Ireland, with 66 cases confirmed on Sunday and 200 on Saturday.

It is understood NPHET recommended the government issue new advice to limit the numbers at a household gathering to six people from three different households. 

NPHET also discussed the protection of vulnerable people and recommended the government ask older people and those with underlying conditions to limit time spent outside their homes. 

Workers will continue to be encouraged to work from home if it is possible to do so. 

With just two weeks to go now, the safe re-opening of schools was high on the agenda for NPHET yesterday. Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has stressed it is a top priority for health officials and, if needed, other measures will be taken to ensure children can get back to school. 

Originally, a Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 was due to meet later this morning to discuss recommendations from health officials. This has, however, been changed to a full meeting of Cabinet where it is expected fresh restrictions could be brought in. 

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Guidance is also expected to be issued this week in relation to the regional lockdown in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. Yesterday Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said he did not expect these restrictions in the Midlands would be expanded. 

He also said his department had been working to finalise foreign travel proposals for Cabinet to consider. 

“Right now things are very finely balanced in terms of public health, getting the schools open, protecting jobs, getting the hospitals and the healthcare system up and running,” he said yesterday.

“I would say the next three weeks are incredibly important.”

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