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Covid-19 numbers ‘better than we could have hoped for’ – Dr Ronan Glynn

The acting chief medical officer paid tribute to the public for ‘sticking with guidance’.

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Ireland’s acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Julien Behal/PA)

Ireland’s acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Julien Behal/PA)

Ireland’s acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Julien Behal/PA)

Ireland’s Covid-19 numbers are “better than could have been hoped for” just a few weeks ago, the acting chief medical officer has said.

Dr Ronan Glynn paid tribute to the population for “listening to the messages and sticking with this”.

He said the country had gone from among the worst impacted in the EU in January to “continuing on a very positive path” to “amongst the best positioned in Europe at the moment in relation to this disease”.

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A member of the Defence Forces at the Citywest Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A member of the Defence Forces at the Citywest Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A member of the Defence Forces at the Citywest Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Acting chief medical officer Dr Glynn said: “It’s fantastic that we are where we are.

“Of course I’ll give all the caveats and say it’s still a high level of disease, it can still turn quickly… but we’re in a much better position than we thought we would be, and that is down first and foremost to people listening to the messages and sticking with this.

“We have come a huge distance, we do have a way to go, we have to stick with it but it is very important that people hear and understand that their efforts have made an enormous difference and we have avoided very significant mortality.”

Professor Philip Nolan, the chairman of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, hailed “significant and positive improvements” against all indicators of Covid-19.

He also said Ireland is seeing a “very significant impact” of the vaccination programme on the number of cases in long-term residential care and on mortality in long-term residential care.

However, he warned that until more of the population has received the jab, Ireland remains in a “positive but relatively high-risk position”.

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar (Julien Behal/PA)

The update from Nphet came after Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland is on course to lift more coronavirus restrictions from May 4.

The Tanaiste also said that 80% of the population will have had their first dose of Covid vaccine, or have been offered it, by the end of June.

He said the Government will sit down at the end of April to develop a reopening plan for the months of May, June and July.

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The Government is planning for more outdoor activities, a phased reopening of retail and the return of personal services such as hairdressers on a staggered basis next month.

He said: “Cases are stable or falling, the R number is below one.

“Kids are back to school, the five kilometre rule is gone, we’re building houses again.

“We are on track, we’re on track both to ease restrictions as planned from May 4, and to have over 80% of people receiving their first vaccine by the end of June.”

Speaking at a Nphet press conference, Prof Nolan said the numbers in hospital are below 200 for the first time since mid-December, and that an uplift in hospital admissions following Easter has not materialised.

The seven-day average is around 400 cases per day and the five-day average is 358.

Earlier HSE chief executive Paul Reid said they “expect and hope” that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will become available during quarter two.

Use of the vaccine was paused by its manufacturer this week amid concerns from US regulators over rare cases of blood clotting.

Ireland was due to receive more than 600,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine between April and June, meaning plans for the vaccine rollout had to be quickly redrawn.

What we would expect, and we will certainly hope that the Johnson and Johnson does come back within the quarter.Paul Reid, HSE chief executive

While these problems were offset by news of an additional 545,000 doses of the Pfizer jab, health bosses are still hopeful the J&J inoculation will be approved for use by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) next week.

“All we know right now is that it has been withdrawn for now, paused, and we can build based on that,” Mr Reid said.

“What we would expect, and we will certainly hope that the Johnson and Johnson does come back within the quarter, with whatever definitions are defined by the EMA or NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) or the organisation themselves.”

However, the HSE’s latest modelling is based on the J&J vaccine not being made available this quarter.

Mr Reid told a briefing on Thursday that there are three variables that will determine the modelling for how many people can be vaccinated over the next three months.

These are the length of the delay on the J&J vaccine, the delivery schedule for the additional 545,000 Pfizer jabs and the possibility of extending the gap between first and second vaccine doses.

Mr Reid said the vaccine rollout had been changed up to 25 times already due to various issues, and is likely to change again.

He said there has already been “huge benefits” delivered by the vaccine programme.

“It’s reducing our hospitalisations, our sickness and our mortality,” he added.

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Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, has said he is hopeful the Johnson and Johnson jab will be available this quarter (Brian Lawless/PA)

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, has said he is hopeful the Johnson and Johnson jab will be available this quarter (Brian Lawless/PA)

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, has said he is hopeful the Johnson and Johnson jab will be available this quarter (Brian Lawless/PA)

On Thursday, the HSE launched a new online portal where people can register for their vaccines.

It is currently open to people aged between 65 and 69.

Mr Reid said there had been 18,000 registrations completed by lunchtime on Thursday, of which 95% were done through the portal.

Eight further deaths with Covid-19 and another 309 cases in Ireland were notified on Thursday.

As of 8am on Thursday, there were 184 Covid-19 patients in Irish hospitals, of whom 51 were in intensive care.

Meanwhile, as of April 13, 1,094,964 doses of coronavirus vaccine had been administered in Ireland.

This included 769,721 first doses and 325,243 second doses.


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