A further easing of restrictions is possible “in the coming weeks”, according to the Chief Medical Officer.
Speaking at the weekly NPHET briefing this evening, Dr Tony Holohan noted that around 2% of Ireland’s COVID cases are currently ending up in hospital.
He noted that the figure would be far higher if not for the vaccine rollout and encouraged everyone who can register for a vaccine to do so.
He said the “great progress” in the rollout could lead to a further easing of restrictions in the coming weeks.
“In broad terms, I think, given the progress we are making in terms of vaccination, notwithstanding where we are at with the disease, we think that we might, in the coming weeks, be in a situation where we are able to reach the kinds of requirements we think need to be reached to enable us to move away with some of the economic and social restrictions,” he said.
Dr Holohan noted that NPHET keeps all of Ireland’s public health restrictions under constant review – noting that each one should remain in place for “no longer than is necessary.”
He noted that a “significant number of restrictions” are still in place in Ireland – pointing to the need for indoor dining COVID passes and limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings as examples.
“We think that the progress we are making as a country, in terms of vaccination in particular, will put us in a strong position,” he said.
‘Not far away’
He said there is no date in mind for any easing of restrictions but noted that the country may not be far away from reaching a point where restrictions can safely be eased.
“We are looking at essentially, what are the kinds of criteria that need to be satisfied to enable us to advise when we think is appropriate and safe to step back some of those arrangements,” he said.
“So, it is more about achieving those criteria rather than a specific time period or a date – but if we keep the progress going that we are making in terms of vaccination, that day may not be far away.”
This afternoon, a further 1,408 COVID cases were announced.
The number of patients in hospital has increased by 58% in the past week; however, the intensive care figure has remained relatively stable at 26.
This weekend, the first walk-in vaccination centres will open around the country.
Meanwhile vaccination registration yesterday opened to everyone aged over 16-years-old.
The vaccination of children aged 12 to 15-years-old is expected to get underway from next week.