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frightening figures Nphet hasn't met in three weeks - as number of cases rise rapidly


Paul Reid

Paul Reid

Paul Reid

PUBLIC health chiefs have not met in almost three weeks as Covid cases have been steadily rising.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) last met on July 27, did not meet the following week and is not planning to meet this week either.

The last time it met, on July 27, a total of 1,120 daily cases were reported and 142 people were in hospital with Covid-19.

Since then, case counts have shot upwards, the highest case number recorded in six months was on Monday with 1,837. As of yesterday morning, 219 people were in hospital with Covid-19.

"The Nphet will meet soon to agree recommendations to Government on the next phase of the management of the pandemic, and work is under way in this regard," said a spokesperson for the Department of Health.

"The epidemiological profile of the disease continues to be monitored closely."

At the start of the summer, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said Nphet will no longer meet weekly as the vaccine roll-out gets under way and the country reopens.

"Nphet doesn't need to meet every week any more," he said at the time. Since then, officials have been meeting around once every two weeks.

Press conferences which took place twice a week were also scaled back to once every two weeks, however, the last press briefing took place on July 28, the day after officials met.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said yesterday that Nphet will consider case counts, hospitalisations, numbers in ICU and vaccine uptake over the next "week to two weeks" and give advice to the Government as to how the country should proceed in reopening.

According to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, 80pc of people over the age of 16 will be fully vaccinated by the end of this weekend.

A total of three million people are now fully vaccinated in Ireland.

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Dr Glynn said he is "hopeful" people will be able to return to offices in September.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, he said one of the "key things" the public health chiefs are discussing is how much of the population should be fully vaccinated for further reopening.

"Ultimately what we want is as many people as possible in as many age groups to get fully vaccinated, both for themselves but for society as a whole so we can get to a level as close to normal as quick as possible," Dr Glynn said.

He also said that the wearing of masks will be a feature during the winter, especially in settings such as the healthcare sector. However, he added that in some other settings, people will be able to choose if they want to wear a mask.

"We need to differentiate between what is mandated and what we are advising as public health clinicians," Dr Glynn said.

"There are strong arguments now that we would advise people to wear masks in particular settings, at particular times of the year moving forward.

"But that will be a personal choice for people, ultimately, in many of the settings."

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