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Covid concern Further 4,570 Covid-19 cases as Cabinet to discuss latest Nphet recommendations

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 will meet tonight to make key decisions on Nphet’s latest recommendations, which include extending the use of Covid passes beyond hospitality and working from home.

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Another 4,570 cases of the Covid-19 virus were reported today.

As of 8am today, there were 622 patients with Covid-19 in the country’s hospitals, of whom 117 were being treated in intensive care units.

The Cabinet Sub-Committee on Covid-19 will meet tonight to make key decisions on Nphet’s latest recommendations, which include extending the use of Covid passes beyond hospitality and working from home.

Speaking in Navan this afternoon, Mr Martin said he does not see a lockdown being brought in only for unvaccinated people as has been done in Austria, where two million people remain unvaccinated.

“I don’t anticipate we’ll be going down that route, we’ve got 93pc, 94pc vaccinated,” he said.

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

“They’re in a different situation, I think they’re 64pc, 65pc vaccinated, which means that they’ve a big issue with a significant number of people which remain unvaccinated.”

He said that this Covid surge is the “wave of the unvaccinated” where people who are not jabbed make up the majority of numbers in hospital or in intensive care.

Mr Martin said people now have to “adjust our behaviours”.

“Now that the numbers are very high again, I think we have to adjust our behaviours both individually, collectively, as groups, as families, that’s the real message that Nphet have been communicating for quite some time,” he said.

“I think the bottom line for all of us is that we do have to reduce socialisation,” he said.

He declined to stay if Covid passes will be rolled out in gyms and hairdressers and said that a decision on this will be made at tonight’s crunch meeting.

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Mr Martin said that antigen testing will be deployed in “wider society” and that Cabinet will sign off on some antigen test measures tomorrow.

He said that having subsidised antigen tests which are “more affordable” throughout the winter is important, but did not say that they would be free.

When asked about a circuit-breaker lockdown in the lead up to Christmas, Mr Martin said that it is “it’s not just about Christmas”.

“It’s about getting through this phase,” he said.

“I think we need to take it now steady and step by step.”

He said that “behaviour is key” as is “compliance with guidance”.

Meanwhile, outbreaks of Covid-19 in prisons caused disruption to criminal court hearings today, with one prison officer telling a High Court judge that there have been "outbreaks in every prison".

This morning a prisoner was not produced in court from Cloverhill Prison, with their barrister telling the presiding judge: "There is a Covid issue at Cloverhill, described as 'lockdown'."

In the afternoon, a prison officer told the court: “There’s been outbreaks in every prison,” adding that he believed the Midlands Prison and others were also affected.

He said his understanding was that Wheatfield was the only site still accepting prisoners and that officials were continuing to meet this afternoon to decide what to do.

The officer expressed concern that if a requested prisoner was sent back to Mountjoy Prison, it was uncertain whether it would be possible to produce him again tomorrow morning.

The High Court judge said he would not make a remand order before finding out more information.

“I’m going to make inquiries as to whether there is another prison to which he could be remanded in the meantime,” he said, and adjourned the matter.

On his return, the judge said “it would appear we can make the usual order”, before he remanded the prisoner back to Mountjoy.

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