HSE CEO says they want to "protect the gains" that have been made 3 months ago

HSE CEO says they want to "protect the gains" that have been made

It comes as reports on Friday suggest the full reopening of pubs and restaurants may be delayed.

CEO of the Health Service Executive Paul Reid has said the Delta variant poses a "significant threat" and there must be a focus on protecting the gains the country has already made.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Friday morning, Reid acknowledged that Ireland is in a much stronger position than it was last December due to the vaccination programme.

"It does always seem like every time we're in the departure lounge of exiting this virus, something comes along to stall our progress," Reid said.

"But on the positive side, we do go into this threat in a much stronger position than we have faced our threats in the past."

He added that a high percentage of the cases of the last few weeks (85%), have been in people under the age of 45, meaning it's a less vulnerable cohort getting infected.

But Reid said there's no doubt the Delta variant will accelerate and it currently accounts for 20% of the cases here already.

"Yesterday alone we'd 58,000 vaccinations completed and this week and next week will remain strong," he said.

"The more people we get vaccinated and fully vaccinated, the more we protect. But it is still the unknown, the uncertainty about the hospitalisations, the illness, the ICU impact, and what we want to do is really protect the gains we've made, all those positives I've just outlined.

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"We want to secure them, we want to protect them. Nobody wants to go back to those dark days of January."

It comes as a delay to the full return of indoor hospitality is looking increasingly likely, according to new reports on Friday morning.

According to the Irish Times, government and official sources have indicated the full return of pubs and restaurants will be pushed back from the planned date of 5 July due to concerns surrounding the Delta variant.