| 15.4°C Dublin

No appetite to extend Level 5 lockdown, says Donnelly

But the health minister did not offer a guarantee that Ireland would emerge from the current lockdown on December 1.

Close

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (PA)

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (PA)

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (PA)

The health minister has insisted there is “no appetite” to extend Ireland’s Level 5 lockdown, but stopped short of guaranteeing the restrictions will be eased on schedule.

Stephen Donnelly urged the public to “double down” on compliance with measures for the remainder of the six-week lockdown as he expressed concern over recent “stalled” progress in driving down infection rates.

He said scenes of people drinking on the streets in Dublin and Cork over the weekend and data indicating more traffic on the streets were evidence of people becoming “fatigued” with the restrictions.

The Level 5 measures are due to lift on December 1.

Mr Donnelly said while the country had made great progress in driving down infection numbers in the first half of the lockdown, Covid-19 rates were starting to go in the wrong direction again.

Over the last week it is clear that people have become fatiguedStephen Donnelly

He said infection numbers had fallen from 1,200 a day at the start of the lockdown to current rates that had seen 366 cases recorded on Tuesday.

He said Ireland had witnessed the biggest reduction in cases in Europe.

However, the minister noted that 13 of the 26 counties have had more cases in the last seven days than they had in the previous seven days.

“We are largely on course,” he told RTE.

“The first three weeks were really good, the R number for last week was down to 0.6.

“So people have made huge sacrifices, people have really got on board with Level 5. It has worked.

“What I’m saying and what the public health doctors are saying, over the last week it is clear that people have become fatigued. The gatherings in large groups to drink outside is one symptom of that. We’re seeing more traffic on the roads as well.

“There has been an easing off over the last week, so we want to see over the next two weeks we’ve got to double down, because we want to open up as much as possible for December.”

Close

Dr Tony Holohan said he was increasingly concerned at infection rates (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan said he was increasingly concerned at infection rates (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan said he was increasingly concerned at infection rates (PA)

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

The minister added: “There is no appetite to not exit Level 5 in two weeks.

“There was a very clear decision made, which was Level 5 for six weeks, which is why the next two weeks matter so much.”

Asked if the Government would approve a lifting of Level 5 restrictions no matter what on December 1, Mr Donnelly replied: “I don’t think with Covid, the Irish Government or any government anywhere can say no matter what on anything.”

The minister noted that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) had recommended that Level 5 measures should be lifted if case numbers fell to 100 a day.

But he added: “There is time and if we don’t hit the hundred it doesn’t mean we won’t come out of Level 5.

“Obviously the Government and Nphet will consider a wide variety of measures.”

On Tuesday evening, chief medical officer and Nphet chair Dr Tony Holohan also stressed the need for a concerted public effort over the next fortnight.

“I am increasingly concerned that the positive trends we had seen recently have not been maintained,” he said.

“The five-day moving average of daily cases has increased from an average of 350 cases on November 11 to 424 today.

“We have two weeks to continue in our efforts to drive down community transmission of this disease as much as possible.

“The lower the incidence the more flexibility the country will have in easing measures.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy