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Covid crisis 3,726 new Covid cases as Health Minister seeks to extend emergency powers to February

The emergency power legislation provides for face masks, Covid passes, enforcement powers and fixed penalty notices to be put in place in relation to restrictions.

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

A further 3,726 new Covid-19 cases have been announced as the Health Minister seeks to extend emergency legislation until February next year.

Stephen Donnelly revealed over 3,700 new Covid-19 cases would be recorded today as he accused TDs of being “reckless” for voting against keeping vaccine passports in place for next three months.

The Department of Health have since confirmed the figure, with 493 Covid-19 patients in hospital, 90 of whom are in ICU.

The rate of Covid in the country is 18pc higher than last week although the number of people with the disease in hospital remains relatively stable.

Mr Donnelly was accused of being “disrespectful” by opposition TDs for accusing them of being reckless for voting against emergency health legislation underpinning Covid passes.

“I do think it’s reckless and I said that with respect he said,” he said.

“This evening more than 3,700 cases are going to be announced, we have hospitals that are getting fuller with Covid patients as a result of this and as a result of people having to go into ICUs, elective surgery for other men, women and children is being cancelled,” he added.

The minister said the Covid situation right now is “serious”.

Mr Donnelly said TDs stand up in the house and say they want to protect healthcare workers but many are planning to vote against legislation which will do that.

Independent TD Michael Healy Rae and Michael McNamara criticised Mr Donnelly.

There was pushback in the Dail against the Government’s attempts to extend emergency power legislation.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly this afternoon has proposed extending them until February 9.

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The emergency power legislation provides for face masks, Covid passes, enforcement powers and fixed penalty notices to be put in place in relation to restrictions.

The laws, which were due to expire on November 9, are now being extended after being put in place for the first time at the beginning of the pandemic.

Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane said that he accepts that some public health restrictions will have to stay in place, however he said that the country is now in a “different place” since the legislation was first put in place.

“I think the time has come where they are no longer necessary,” he said.

He said that the circumstances are now “completely different” than they were when the legislation was first put in place.

TD Thomas Gould said that politicians should not be expected to sign a “blank cheque” and “suspend normal parliamentary oversight”.

People Before Profit also refused to support the extension of the legislation.

Labour TD Ged Nash said that there is a need to take “responsible actions to help save lives”.

He said that measures such as mask wearing will help to tackle the spread of the virus.

Social Democrat TD and party co-leader Róisín Shortall put in place amendments, saying that there are “draconian powers” in place which have an implication on freedoms.

She said that regulations put in place under the legislation should be first brought into the Dáil to allow for scrutiny.

Labour agreed to extend emergency powers as the country is entering a “very difficult winter”.

In a statement this evening, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan again urged people to take up the vaccine.

He added: "We also know that, even when vaccinated, we still need to practice basic public health interventions - washing our hands, opening windows, wearing masks and most importantly, staying home when we have symptoms.

"These simple measures are very successful at breaking the chains of transmission of this disease."

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