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Leaders consider advice over Covid surge from health chiefs

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks and rising hospital admissions.

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A woman walks past a cafe (PA)

A woman walks past a cafe (PA)

A woman walks past a cafe (PA)

Ireland’s political leaders are considering advice from health chiefs over a surge of coronavirus cases following a day of meetings.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended moving to Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions framework for six weeks.

It comes following a dramatic increase in the number of cases of the virus and rising hospital admissions.

Level five – the highest stage – would see people being asked to stay within 5km of their home, as well as bars and restaurants offering only takeaway service.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Tom Honan/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Tom Honan/PA)

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Tom Honan/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan – leaders of the coalition parties – met at Government buildings in Dublin on Saturday.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn and Epidemiological Modelling Group chair professor Philip Nolan briefed those present.

The meetings appeared to have ended shortly after 8pm on Saturday.

Speaking as he left, Mr Ryan told reporters that he did not expect a Cabinet meeting would take place on Sunday.

“Today was a long series of meetings, but it’s complex, there are so many different variables, health, our people and all the other things that will be affected one way or the other in how we respond to this,” he said.

“We’ll come back again early next week, government will look at matters further and in the meantime do a lot of further work.

“I don’t expect one (a Cabinet meeting) tomorrow.”

He added: “Obviously we share the concerns (of Dr Tony Holohan) looking at the numbers increase, incidents of the virus. It’s clearly something of real concern across Europe, across the world and here too.

“We listened intently but government has to balance up a whole range of variables, yes we have to look at the impacts of the virus, but also the impacts in so many different ways on society and how we respond to it.”

On Friday, Mr Martin described the situation as “very serious”.

“We will need further action in relation to this,” he said.

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A sign in the window of a clothes shop on Main street, Co Cavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

A sign in the window of a clothes shop on Main street, Co Cavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

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A sign in the window of a clothes shop on Main street, Co Cavan (Brian Lawless/PA)

It comes after soaring numbers of Covid-19 cases across the country in recent weeks and an upsurge of hospital admissions.

Currently counties Dublin, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan are at stage four, while the rest of the country is at stage three.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland faces four weeks of tougher restrictions aimed at halting the rapid increase in cases.

On Saturday, a further 1,276 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by Nphet in the Republic, bringing the national total to 48,678.

Eight more deaths with the virus were recorded, taking the total to 1,849. Of the eight, one occurred in June, two in September and five in October.

Of the latest cases in Ireland, 278 were in Dublin, 149 in Cork, 108 in Meath, 107 in Galway, 80 in Wexford – and the remaining 554 cases are spread across 21 counties.

As of 2pm on Saturday, 260 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 30 are in intensive care.

Online Editors