"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated," says Leo Varadkar
NPHET has issued fresh advice to the Government on the issue of mask-wearing.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has called the latest wave of Covid-19 a "pandemic of the unvaccinated".
According to the Irish Examiner, the Tánaiste made the comments following the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) advising the Government that children aged between five and 11 should avoid indoor events such as nativity plays.
Public health officials have also recommended that masks be worn by those aged nine and over.
Varadkar said it was important for the public to understand the backdrop to the advice from NPHET.
He stated that the "pandemic is changing" as Ireland now has a heavily vaccinated population, with huge numbers having already received their booster shot.
"This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Roughly half the people in hospital at the moment are not vaccinated," the Tánaiste said.
"Unfortunately, children aged between five and 11 cannot be vaccinated yet.
"So, they are now more vulnerable than they would've been in the past and we have seen a very sharp increase in infections among children under 11 in the last couple of weeks, and that's the basis behind the CMO's advice."
Speaking on CNN's Connect the World last week, Varadkar also pointed to Ireland's unvaccinated population as a troublesome issue.
"We do have among the highest vaccination rates in the world – around 94% of adults are fully vaccinated," he said.
"Unfortunately, the 5% that are not are causing a lot of the trouble. About 5% are not fully vaccinated but about 50% of people in hospital in ICU are not fully vaccinated, so even that 5% can create a lot of difficulty."
Meanwhile, the first case of the new Covid-19 variant in Europe has been detected in Belgium.
First detected in South Africa, little is known about the variant yet, but the World Health Organisation has said it does contain a "large number of mutations".
Following the case in Belgium, the European Commission has said that member states should suspend all air travel with countries linked to the new variant.
An announcement regarding fresh travel restrictions is expected to be made by the Irish Government on Friday evening.
Main image via Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie