Micheál Martin stresses need to be "vigilant" ahead of July reopening amid "significant increase" in Delta variant
“There is a significant increase in the incidence of the Delta variant."
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has stressed the need to be "vigilant" ahead of the 5 July reopening of indoor dining amid a "significant increase" in the Delta Covid-19 variant in Ireland.
Despite case numbers and hospitalisations continuing to drop, the Delta variant has accounted for 20% of all Covid cases in the past week according to Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Tuesday that the indoor dining reopening on 5 July looks “so far, so good”, although he warned there is a need to be "vigilant".
He said it's crucial to "keep an eye" as concerns around the Delta variant continue to grow.
The Taoiseach told reporters: "I think the situation has been positive certainly up to now in terms of the disease level, and it has been declining over the last number of weeks.
"And the most recent letter from NPHET confirms that, but of course, the share of the incidence is changing.
“There is a significant increase in the incidence of the Delta variant as a share of the overall incidence of the virus.
“We will obviously keep this under close monitoring, and we all need to be very vigilant.”
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said that Ireland is "still on track" to further ease Covid-19 restrictions on 5 July, despite concerns regarding the Delta variant of the virus.
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, with the CMO describing the increase as "concerning".
Speaking to reporters about the variant on Tuesday morning, Varadkar said there was "definitely reason for concern" but not "panic" at this stage.
He said: “We’re still on track to ease restrictions further on 5 July, but we won’t be able to make a final decision on that until next Thursday when we see more data and we have the most up-to-date advice from NPHET.”
The Tánaiste said the Delta variant will become the most dominant in Ireland.
He explained: “That’s the way the biology works and as the number of Delta cases increases, the number of the other variants will go down.
“What we really want to see is what happens with the total number of cases and whether that impacts on hospitals in any way."