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Holohan denies policy is to ‘let Covid rip’ as 67 deaths reported in the last week

CHIEF medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has rejected accusations he is willing to let Covid-19 “rip”, but said he does not envisage a return to restrictions even if projections of 800 to 1,000 people in hospital in late November with 150 to 200 in critical care materialise.

Dr Holohan said: “We are not planning on that basis”.

He insisted the accusation that the current policy around the virus was to “let it rip” was not the case.

He added: “I am not going to rule anything out.”

But his expectation was that if this level of hospital admissions happens, it would not trigger a reversal of current reopening.

Dr Holohan was speaking at yesterday’s Department of Health Covid-19 briefing where he was quizzed on his letter to government outlining the decision by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) not to opt for a pause in the planned October 22 lifting of most restrictions on the grounds it would not make much difference.

Earlier, he said consideration could at some point be given to reintroducing some restrictions, but he would not be drawn on when. He said the message yesterday was to ask people to improve their adherence to Covid-19 measures rather than issuing a threat.

Asked again about what point in deterioration might trigger a reversal to restrictions, he said it was a “hypothetical scenario” and “nobody wants to go back”.

He was optimistic that if people could reboot their efforts to do the basics such as washing hands, wearing a mask, physical distancing and reducing social contacts, it would be possible to slow down the spread of the virus.

However, Dr Holohan was speaking against a grim background of 1,631 new cases, which are deflated due to the bank holiday and set to rise in the coming days. There have also been 67 deaths with Covid reported in the last week.

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Hospitals are now coping with 503 Covid-19 patients, of whom 101 are in intensive care.

It means non-Covid patients, particularly those on waiting lists for years in some cases, are again being sacrificed after their procedures are cancelled due to lack of beds.

In his letter to government after the last Nphet meeting, he said projections were that there could be approximately 2,000 new admissions to hospital and over 300 admissions to ICU between that point and the end of the year.

Meanwhile, the latest outbreak report yesterday showed workplaces, residential centres and schools were among the worst hit last week.

There were 22 outbreaks in the workplace, with 115 confirmed linked cases.

Another 11 outbreaks were reported in schools, with 90 linked cases.

Of these, seven were in primary schools, two in special education and two in post-primary schools.

There were five new travel-related outbreaks, with 21 linked cases from Faro, Alicante, Lanzarote and the Ukraine. Twelve outbreaks were reported in nursing homes and 20 in residential centres, including 12 in centres for a disability.

There were 55 outbreaks in private houses and three at religious ceremonies.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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