Easing restrictions 'needs to be looked at quite soon', NPHET member says

A record 23,817 new COVID-19 cases were reported here on Thursday
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.41 7 Jan 2022

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Easing restrictions 'needs to...

Easing restrictions 'needs to be looked at quite soon', NPHET member says

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.41 7 Jan 2022

Share this article

A member of the National Public Health Emergency Team says it will have to consider a further easing of restrictions 'quite soon'.

Dr Mary Favier was speaking as the body did not recommend any new restrictions on Thursday.

It comes after a record 23,817 new COVID-19 cases were reported here - the highest daily figure since the pandemic began.


While 941 people were in hospital with the virus and 90 are in ICU.

NPHET is also understood not to have recommended any changes to the close contacts rules for the moment.

Dr Favier, who is also COVID adviser to the Irish College of General Practitioners, told Newstalk Breakfast the peak of Omicron could still be weeks away.

"I think the peak could be another week or two or three away, because of the sheer numbers in the system that haven't been counted to date.

"Testing has not been able to keep up, it just couldn't.

"So in terms of numbers of the peak we might not have seen it yet, but there is a feel that we may be just coming through this sort of short, sharp steep rise and coming through the other side of it.

"We don't know; but it's caution for another week or two - but after that, if things stay as stable as they are, it looks reasonably optimistic".

Asked about any potential easing of restrictions, Dr Favier says this will have to be considered shortly.

"I think inevitably that would need to be looked at and looked at quite soon.

"There's always a balance in healthcare with prioritising COVID care and then non-COVID care taking a back seat.

"And you always have to do that in terms of what's the most beneficial and what gives the largest health gain".

And she believes there is a concern about non-COVID diagnoses being overlooked.

"General Practitioners are very concerned about non-COVID care being missed, and significant diagnoses being missed.

"So restrictions all across healthcare and across society would be lifted reasonably quickly, not completely, but all with a view to getting healthcare workers back to work, getting society functioning when we have a better sense of what those figures mean.

"As people will know, the last thing anybody wants to do is go backwards - as we've said before - but hopefully we're starting to see some glimmer of light".

Easing restrictions 'needs to be looked at quite soon', NPHET member says

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'Elective work must be curtailed'

Earlier this week the INMO called for elective work in Irish hospitals to be curtailed until the end of January, to allow staff to deal with rising COVID-19 infections.

It comes after HSE CEO Paul Reid wrote to the country's hospital groups and said the focus should be on urgent care and COVID care over the next 14 days.

But INMO general-secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, told Newstalk: "We think really and truly, and based on stats we've just heard there, this is not going to be gone in two weeks.

"We believe that all of the elective work must be curtailed until the end of January to give our healthcare workers some chance of dealing with what they're facing in a safe manner".

And she said they need a better back-up plan.

"We can't have a situation where Plan B is always 'Make sure you cancel annual leave, redeploy and just use the people that are employed in all sorts of different services when we need to'.

"For example nurses have been in the vaccination clinics, have been on the testing and tracing clinics... all of the new services that this pandemic has required, they have populated.

"But their numbers have had a modest growth".

Main image: Dr Mary Favier at an update on COVID-19 in the Department of Health, Dublin in August 2020. Picture by: Sam Boal/

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Close Contacts Covid-19 Cases Dr Mary Favier Easing Restrictions. NPHET National Public Health Emergency Team Newstalk Breakfast Omicron

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