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lockdown latest Restrictions likely to stay in place for another six months, Micheal Martin says

He said the current level of infection could not have been foreseen when the country went back to level 3 before Christmas.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin. Julien Behal/PA

Taoiseach Micheal Martin. Julien Behal/PA

Taoiseach Micheal Martin. Julien Behal/PA

TAOISEACH Micheal Martin has warned tight restrictions are likely to stay in place for the next six months because of the more infectious variants of the Covid-19 virus.

He said the current level of infection could not have been foreseen when the country went back to level 3 before Christmas.

A delay in delivery of the as-yet unapproved Astra Zeneca virus could also hit Ireland’s vaccination programme.

Speaking on RTÉ's Brendan O'Connor show the Taoiseach said they were waiting on this vaccine and that its delay will "put us in a problem", but added they are going to have to deal with it.

"AstraZeneca was going to be the catalyst to be allowed to move from low level to mass vaccination," he said.

Despite the set-back it is still the Government's plan to be at the point of mass vaccination by the end of June.

Expressing his concern over the new variants of Covid and if vaccines would still be effective, he said that the issue was discussed at the meeting of EU leaders earlier this week.

Mr Martin said it is a race against time between the vaccination roll-out and on the other the variants and if they will "undermine the efficacy of vaccines".

The Taoiseach also said case numbers have to be much lower before the current restrictions are eased.

"It will become the dominant variant. It is at 62pc of all cases," he said.

"By the summer we will be in a changed environment because of the large scale vaccination that will have been achieved by then."

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