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beer we go Dr Tony Holohan says he has 'increasing confidence' pubs reopening timeline will be met

Dr Holohan said he was reassured that so far in this phase of reopening people were not getting ahead of what is allowed.

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Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Pubs and restaurants that are pinning their hopes on reopening for outdoor trade in June were given grounds for hope yesterday.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan expressed “increasing confidence” that the timeline to reopen could be met.

He said he was aware people in these businesses were working hard in advance of the date for reopening as part of the exit from lockdown.

Dr Holohan said he was reassured that so far in this phase of reopening people were not getting ahead of what is allowed.

But asked about Portobello Plaza in Dublin, which is closed this weekend due to drinking and anti-social behaviour, he said compliance with public health measures over the coming weeks was important and should not be allowed slip.

He said a decision on June reopenings would be made on May 27.

Earlier, Prof Philip Nolan, who tracks the virus, said the Covid-19 situation here remained stable and there were strong grounds for optimism.

There were four deaths reported and 425 new cases yesterday.

However, he said level of Covid-19 illness and death from the virus had fallen dramatically.

He pointed out that during the pandemic around 50 people for every 1,000 cases of the virus could be hospitalised. Some five would end up in intensive care and 10 would die.

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However, the latest figures show that deaths are down to one per 1,000 and hospitalisations have also dropped to 30 per 1,000.

The numbers admitted to intensive care now stood at around two per 1,000 cases of the virus, he added.

He said the effect of Covid-19 vaccination in older age groups was already very significant. Overall, the number of cases of the virus went down by 9pc last week, he said.

He added: “We are seeing a very large reduction in the probability of being hospitalised or dying. It is clear that vaccination not only decreases infection but also decreases the severity of any disease that break through,” he added.

On a typical day now there are one or two admissions to intensive care or maybe none in comparison with three to five weeks ago.

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Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Dublin's Portobello Plaza has been cordoned off for the weekend after outbreaks recently of what the city council called 'completely unacceptable behaviour' by large crowds of up to 1,000 people gathering to socialise. Photo: Collins

Dr Cillian de Gascun of the Virus Reference Laboratory said 41 cases of the Indian variant – now designated a variant of concern – had been diagnosed here.

The variant is causing clusters in parts of the UK.

Meanwhile, Dr Holohan said it was important that graduation ceremonies and end-of-school-year celebrations did not go ahead this year.

He said that it was very important that all students preparing to sit their Leaving Cert took the necessary precautions now to ensure they did not catch Covid-19.

This was particularly important in the gap between the end of the term and the start of exams, he said.

“Do not attend graduation ceremonies or events. Take time to restrict your social contacts and continue to follow public health advice,” he added.

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The Garda public order unit at Portobello last weekend

The Garda public order unit at Portobello last weekend

The Garda public order unit at Portobello last weekend

Students who are positive for Covid-19 will not be allowed into exam halls to sit their exams.

Questioned on why Kildare has now overtaken Donegal for having the highest 14-day incidence of the virus, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was a legacy of a large cluster of cases at the Intel site along with other outbreaks in workplaces and schools.

They were now coming under control, he added.

Dr Holohan said that with a combination of ongoing good adherence to public health measures and the continued roll out of Covid-19 vaccines he did not foresee to the need to employ antigen testing in reopening of activities.

He believed that the reopening of various activities would not need antigen testing.

Antigen tests provide an early response but they pick up around only half of cases.

Dr de Gascun said he would strongly recommend against members of the public using these tests, although they have a role to play in controlled and appropriate circumstances.

The result cannot be relied on, although compensatory measures can be used such as testing people on a number of occasions in the week, he added.

The most reliable test is the PCR test, he added.

Meanwhile, it is expected that the go-ahead will be given to allow for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be given to people from the age of 45 from next week.


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