DUBLIN: Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he does not rule out the possibility of imposing more restrictions on the country in the wake of COVID-19 surge. The 14-day infection rate in Ireland has risen to 381.6 per 100,000 people. 673 patients with COVID-19 are being treated at the hospital. Mr. Varadkar said this was the highest level of COVID-19 hospital admission in Ireland.
Of the 116,000 tests performed in the last seven days, 17.6% were positive. The number of COVID-19 patients is expected to increase in the coming weeks. Patients doubled within two weeks in intensive care units.
The Irish Nurses & Midwives Organization (INMO) has reported a sharp increase in the number of healthcare staff going on COVID leave and self-isolation. More than a hundred nurses at Cork University Hospital are infected. One ward has been closed and there are only four nurses available.
Leo Varadkar said it would not be practical to end the restrictions, even if the five-day average in Ireland was 800 at the end of January.
The possibility of imposing additional restrictions cannot be ruled out. Varadkar said the current restrictions should be given more time to work. Varadkar added that ICU beds of private hospitals would also be made available if required. It is not yet needed, but it will be made available if needed during the third wave, he said.
Will the re-opening of schools be delayed further?
According to government sources, the decision to reopen the schools on January 11 may be reversed. Schools are likely to be closed until the end of January, according to plans being considered by the government to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19.
The cabinet has decided to consider closing all schools except special schools for another two to three weeks.
Sinn Féin, the main opposition party, also called for the closure of schools to prevent the spread of the virus among students, teachers and their parents.
Although the expert committee has not yet made any recommendations, there are indications that a final decision may be made tomorrow.