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The Explainer: Why are Covid cases rising despite Ireland's high vaccination rate?

We speak to a virologist to get the latest.

THIS FRIDAY, 22 October, sees a slight change to the current Covid-19 restrictions.

Up until two weeks ago, it looked like this Friday would signal a big change in restrictions in the country. But then questions began to emerge about the hospitalisation and ICU rate – both were creeping up.

By Monday of this week, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) was meeting to decide on advice to give to Cabinet on the issue. NPHET said that the criteria required to allow the relaxing of most public health measures “ha[d] not been met” as Covid rates were deteriorating, hospital and critical care occupancy was increasing, and non-Covid health and social care services remain under pressure.

“It is therefore not recommended to proceed with the easing of public health restrictions on 22nd October as previously planned,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, wrote in a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

In the letter, Dr Holohan said that modelling suggests that daily case numbers could climb to 2,500-3,000 per day in November.

On Tuesday, new reopening plans were announced – while there was a nuanced approach taken, there are still talks ongoing about the specific guidelines for sectors like nightclubs. 

But if Ireland has had a great take-up of vaccination (over 90% of Irish people over the age of 16 are now fully vaccinated), why are we still having issues with Covid-19 rates creeping up? That’s what we look at on this week’s podcast.

First, reporter Nicky Ryan (who also writes our Covid-19 newsletter) details what was announced on Tuesday and what the government has been saying.

Then virologist Gerald Barry from UCD gives his expert input on what’s going on with Covid in Ireland.

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenter Sinéad O’Carroll, and producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan.

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