Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has refused to rule out a new round of restrictions as the number of people in hospital with COVID continues to rise.
Currently there are 355 people in Irish hospitals who have COVID-19 - an increase of 44 since yesterday - of whom 22 are being treated in intensive care.
It has led to speculation that the Government could introduce a fresh round of restrictions in the autumn as people begin to socialise inside again - something Minister Donnelly refused to rule out:
“We can’t speculate about the autumn at this point. It’s early June,” he told Newstalk.
“What we’re looking at right now is the profile of hospitalisations and what happens with that.
“So I can say categorically I have no advice nor have there been any questions raised in the Department of Health raised around additional restrictions."
Only a third of over 65s have received a second booster and Minister Donnelly said it is overwhelmingly the remaining two thirds who end up hospitalised with the virus:
“When we look at the profile of the people who are in hospital, many of them are over 65 and, unfortunately, quite a number of them have not had the second booster,” he explained.
“So undoubtedly, the single most important message now is for people to get vaccinated [and] to get the first booster if that’s what next for you.”
Earlier in the week, Clíona O'Farrelly, Professor of Comparative Immunology at Trinity College, said that the rise in cases was unsurprising given the end of restrictions and the beginning of the summer social season:
“It’s entirely expected,” Professor O'Farrelly told The Pat Kenny Show.
“Our behaviour has completely changed. We no longer do social distancing, we’re not wearing our masks, we’re in crowds!
“I mean people saw what was happening in the airport and the vast majority of us are vaccinated. So many of us who pick up an infection will pass it on without knowing it.”
Main image: The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly outside National Midwifery Conference, 05-04-2022. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews