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Stark warning Health minister issues Delta variant warning as Ireland records 1,200 new Covid cases today

Stephen Donnelly says up to 1,760 people could die over the next three months and compares toll to 2,300 who died in the War of Independence


Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by Gareth Chaney/Collins Dublin

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has issued a stark warning about the impending impact of the Delta variant as he revealed 1,200 new Covid-19 cases have been recorded today.

Speaking in the Seanad, Mr Donnelly warned the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) modelling predicts there will be around 200 people in intensive care units (ICU) in a few months whihc could mean the curtailment of planned healthcare procedures. .

The minister said there could be between 335 and 1,760 deaths from the virus over the next three months. “In the War of Independence about 2,300 people died to put it in context,” he added.

The 1,200 cases today are up on just under 1,000 cases yesterday and just under 800 on Wednesday.

Mr Donnelly admitted the Government do not know yet how bad the fourth wave of the virus will be but said they are preparing surge capacity for hospitals which are likely to come under pressure.

The minister said the variant is “much more transmissible than anything we’ve seen so far in this pandemic”. He said there are particularly high infection rates in those aged 16 to 24 as well as rapid growth in cases for those aged 24 to 29.

Mr Donnelly was speaking during a debate on the Health (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2021 which provides for the reopening of indoor hospitality for people who have been vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months.

Mr Donnelly noted there have been calls for hospitality to reopen fully but said the experience from other countries showed this would drive up the rate of new cases.

“Given the rapidly increasing prevalence of the disease, particularly among those not yet fully vaccinated I hope these calls will be dropped and that the proposed approach will be supported,” the minister said.

Mr Donnelly said the legislation on indoor dining will mean thousands of people will be able to return to work.

“Some advocate moving faster, opening fully or opening with testing. But that wouldn’t be safe right now. Others advocate keeping the sector closed. But how would that be fair to the women and men all over Ireland who have suffered for so long and who want to get back to work,” he said.

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“Nothing about this pandemic is easy. Not about it is fair. What we’ve got to do each time is find a way forward that works. And that is what this Bill seeks to do,” he added.

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