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lockdown letter Simon Harris publishes letter from NPHET recommending Covid restrictions on two-year anniversary

The letter sparked the very beginning of Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland

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Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Simon Harris (Damien Eagers/Julien Behal Photography/PA)

Minister Simon Harris has published the first letter he received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommending Covid-19 restrictions.

The letter from HSE Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan was written to Minister Harris two years ago on March 12th 2020.

Simon Harris, who was the Minister for Health at the time the pandemic began has since moved into the role of Minister for Further and Higher Education.

Sharing the letter on Twitter he said: “This day two years ago, after an emergency NPHET meeting through the night before, I received this letter from the Chief Medical Officer," he said.

“A letter recommending the first serious set of restrictions arising from Covid-19. A day I will never forget. A time of great worry & anxiety.”

The letter detailed how an increase in cases, ICU admissions, clusters of covid cases and community transmission led them to make recommendations for Covid-19 restrictions.

Dr Tony Holohan also noted that at that time, there had been one Covid related fatality.

It also stated that NPHET took into account advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The letter recommended self-isolation for those with symptoms of Covid-19; the cancellation of mass gatherings; the closure of museums, galleries and tourist attractions; the closure of schools, crèches and higher education; a restriction in visits to prison, hospitals and other healthcare settings; and the implementation of remote work where possible.

“NPHET further recommends that these measures should be introduced from Friday March 13th until Sunday March 29th 2020. NPHET will keep the impact of these measures under review.”

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“NPHET agreed that it is critically important that the health sector should greatly strengthen contact tracing, surveillance, and necessary public health actions in addition to the range of measures approved by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 last Monday March 9th.”

Between March 11 2020 and March 11 2022, Ireland has had 1,341,826 million cases of Covid as well as 6,611 related deaths.

On Friday there were 9,186 cases confirmed via PCR test and 6,752 positive antigen tests registered (total 15,938).

On the same day, there were 907 people in hospital with the virus and 41 confirmed cases in Ireland.

To date, 7.8 million vaccines have been administered as well as 2.8 million booster doses.

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