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Vaccine passes may be required for hospital visits, says Leo Varadkar

The Tanaiste said the Government is working with the HSE on the introduction of a requirement for Covid certificates.


Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

Vaccine passes may be needed for hospital visits, Leo Varadkar has said.

The Tanaiste told reporters on Wednesday that the Government was working with the HSE on the introduction of a requirement for vaccine passes or Covid-19 certificates for anyone visiting Irish hospitals.

He said: “I think it does make a lot of sense. Hospitals are full of vulnerable people who are immunocompromised and we don’t want them getting the virus, and hospitals are also full of people with the virus as well.

“So I think anything we can do to reduce the risk of the virus being introduced to hospitals makes sense to me.”

We'd see it as a further protective measure. It is about balancing the risk of Covid with the rights of residents to receive visitors. Tadhg Daly, Nursing Homes Ireland

Earlier this month, the Government announced that a range of Covid-19 restrictions – including the use of Covid-19 vaccine certificates – would remain until early 2022.

Currently, Covid-19 certificates are required for anyone using indoor hospitality.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan told Health Minister Stephen Donnelly earlier this month that “subject to operational feasibility” the Covid pass could be adopted “as a requirement for visitation to healthcare settings with a provision for exemptions on compassionate grounds”.

“It’s not about stopping visiting. It’s about facilitating safe visits,” he added.

Dr Holohan said Mr Donnelly was working on “operationalising” the measure.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, gave his full backing to the suggestion that vaccine passes could be extended to hospitals and other healthcare settings.

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He told PA news agency that Nursing Homes Ireland had previously suggested such an approach should be considered for care homes.

He said: “We’d see it as a further protective measure.

“It is about balancing the risk of Covid with the rights of residents to receive visitors.”

He said that such a balance could be “tricky” and that nursing homes would wait for Government guidance before introducing any such measures themselves.

“We don’t want visiting to go backwards,” Mr Daly stressed.

“Families and residents and staff all know the threat that Covid still presents.”

He said that healthcare staff should also receive a booster vaccine.

Meanwhile, Dr Holohan has told a Nphet briefing that vaccinations are “not performing as well as hoped” in reducing the transmission of Covid-19.

He said: “In truth they are probably not performing as well as we might have hoped in terms of preventing transmission.

“There is an impact on transmission by and to people who are vaccinated,  but it’s not as great as we might like.

“It is possible for people who are infected, and who were vaccinated, to be infected and to transmit that infection.”

However, he said the jabs have had a huge impact on reducing the numbers of hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths.

On Wednesday, a further 1,631 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland.

There were 503 people in hospital with the disease, with 101 in intensive care.

At a briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Wednesday afternoon, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there had been a 27% increase in the number of patients in hospital with the virus in the last two weeks.

There were 67 newly notified deaths in the past week.

On Thursday, it is expected that new rules governing the re-opening of nightclubs will take effect.

The nightclub industry had called for a two-week delay to the introduction of rules that would see venues requiring customers to book tickets at least an hour in advance.

Representatives said that such a delay is needed to allow venues to prepare for the new set of requirements.

PA news agency understands that at a meeting with Government officials on Wednesday afternoon, industry representatives were told that regulations would take effect from Thursday and that the proposed grace period would not be granted.

Venue owners had suggested that the ticketing requirement would have a detrimental impact on the ability of venues to attract walk-in customers and could turn off some promoters and customers from Irish establishments.

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