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'This is not last Christmas' - Minister says Ireland 'not in the space' for a lockdown

Simon Harris says the country is in a better space than this time last year, owing to the vaccine and boosters
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.19 24 Nov 2021


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'This is not last Christmas' - Minister says Ireland 'not in the space' for a lockdown


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.19 24 Nov 2021


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A Government minister says there is currently no lockdown on the cards, as people are comparing this year to last Christmas.

Science Minister Simon Harris says people should not listen to speculation on social media.

He says the country is now in a much better space than this time last year, owing to the vaccine and now the booster campaign.

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Minister Harris told The Hard Shoulder the Government wants to get boosters out to people as quickly as possible.

"There's a lot of speculation even going around on social media: 'What is the date for the lockdown?' and the likes.

"We're not in this space... we're in this space where the Chief Medical Officer and NPHET have asked us to alter our behaviours again.

"We know how to do that; but we're also in this space in relation to boosters and antigen.

"And I am a Minister for Science, I really believe if we trust the science here the results in relation to booster vaccines - or the third dose of the vaccine, now - are just so, so positive.

"And our responsibility as a Government now is to get them into arms as quickly as possible."

'We all remember how difficult last Christmas was'

He says there are some signs that the new COVID-19 restrictions are starting to work.

"We actually know that there are some signs - some signs - that some of the initiatives are already working.

"You'll see the Department of Health research showing that already people are adapting their behaviour, the number of people in hospital is still high but is reducing.

"The number of booster vaccines being given is increasing; the number of people over the age of 80 getting COVID is decreasing - and we're now beginning to see that positive benefit spread to people over the age of 70 as well.

"There's a risk here that because we all remember how difficult last Christmas was, that we all start to think 'Here we go again'.

"This is not last Christmas, though - this time last year if I was sitting here, not one person in Ireland had been vaccinated.

"We now live in a country with 94% of adults fully vaccinated, the booster programme now being rolled out, antigen testing finally coming on-stream in a number of environments - including the benefits I think we'll see from that in its introduction in schools for close contacts from next week".

But he says history will not record that Ireland got everything right.

"This is not a message from a minister saying 'everything is perfect' or 'everything is going well'.... but I think the people of Ireland know what they need to do to keep themselves safe.

"And I think when you couple that with the booster programme and antigen, it's going to be turbulent, it's going to be difficult, but we can get through this.

"I think when the history of this pandemic is written, it certainly won't say 'Ireland got everything right' - of course it won't.

"But I think it will believe we were well served by our public health experts, I certainly do".

'This is not last Christmas' - Minister says Ireland 'not in the space' for a lockdown

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Minister Simon Harris in Newstalk studios in Dublin. Picture by: Newstalk

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