"We may need to do more than we anticipated" on Christmas restrictions – Paschal Donohoe
"I understand the anxiety and the deepening fatigue that so many face at the moment."
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has indicated that further restrictions may be on the cards in line with a crucial NPHET meeting taking place on Thursday.
Messages from Government regarding potential new and/or tightened restrictions have proved mixed in recent days, from Chief Whip Jack Chambers saying he doesn't expect any to Tánasite Leo Varadkar saying that he does.
As ever, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has attempted to simultaneously put a hopeful face on the overall Covid situation while refusing to rule out the possibility of changes as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly throughout the country.
The latest, per Minister Donohoe, is that restrictions might be in play, after all.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's News at One programme on Thursday, the Finance Minister said that the Government may need to "do more than we would have anticipated" in light of the rising Omicron wave.
"I think it is likely there will be some further changes as we approach the Christmas period," said Donohoe.
"I again understand the anxiety and the deepening fatigue that so many face at the moment but our booster vaccination campaign is picking up speed by the hour and we do have the measure of this pandemic.
"We'll get to a better place in 2022 on it but it may indeed be the case that we need to do more across Christmas than we would have anticipated so what the Government will do is as soon as we receive the formal communication from NPHET, the Government will meet and we will aim to reduce any uncertainty or indeed anxiety in so far as we can by quickly making and communicating a decision."
As of Thursday, it is estimated that the Omicron variant accounts for 27% of all new Covid-19 cases in Ireland – twice the estimate of the past two days.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation's special envoy for Covid-19, Dr David Nabarro, has outlined a stark warning in relation to the rise of Omicron across the world.
"Even if Omicron is several times less unpleasant than Delta, I want to stress the absolute number of people who are going to get infected. Some of whom will be people who've had double vaccination," he said on Sky News on Wednesday night.
"This absolute number is going to lead to an already massively stressed health system and health workforce being further overloaded.
"And so it really is important that every single human being does everything they can to protect health services by minimising social contact and by doing everything possible to prevent transmission of this virus."
Featured Image of Paschal Donohoe via Julien Behal / RollingNews.ie