"Too early to say" if return of indoor pubs and restaurants will be delayed, says Stephen Donnelly 1 month ago

"Too early to say" if return of indoor pubs and restaurants will be delayed, says Stephen Donnelly

The Health Minister has said he is "concerned" about the Delta variant of Covid-19.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said it is "too early to say" if the return of indoor services in pubs and restaurants on 5 July will be delayed due to the Delta variant.

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Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan issued a warning on Monday as the Delta variant accounted for 20% of Covid-19 cases in the last week.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, NPHET member Dr Mary Favier warned that reopening indoor hospitality as planned early next month could be "a recipe for problems".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Wednesday, the Minister said he was "concerned" about the emerging variant in Ireland.

He said: "There are two very different things going on here. The epidemiological situation in the country other than Delta is very positive. The number of cases is continuing to fall, we're seeing phenomenal results in terms of the protection afforded by the vaccines.

"The concern I have is that we are now surrounded by the Delta variant. We know it's significantly more contagious. We believe it is a lot more severe, two to two and a half times more likely to hospitalise somebody... and we know that at least for the first dose, it is less susceptible to vaccines, so this is a very, very serious variant."

Asked if it is likely the further reopening of the country from Covid-19 restrictions may have to be delayed by a couple of weeks, the Minister responded: "At this point, it's too early to say.

"We know that Covid tears up the best-laid plans and it's a rapidly evolving situation with Delta.

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"NPHET will do a very detailed analysis. There'll be an economic analysis. Cabinet will look at that and then make decisions in the best interests of a sustainable reopening."

He said a final decision on the reopening will be made towards the end of next week.