Politics

New coronavirus plan under consideration, says Taoiseach


A new plan for how the country will deal with the Covid-19 pandemic will be mapped out in a forthcoming Government meeting, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Speaking at the One Ocean summit in Brest, France, on Friday, Mr Martin said he had held informal discussions with other heads of state at the conference and the picture around the pandemic was positive.

“We’re going to have a meeting shortly, a Covid meeting within Government, just to try to take stock of the situation and map out the situation for the remainder of the year. And we just had a preliminary chat with some of the heads of state earlier this morning in terms of how things are going in their country,” he said.

“The World Health Organisation seemed pleased with developments as were some of my colleagues.”

Mr Martin said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the remaining restrictions including the wearing of face masks.





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He said, however, that it is his personal view that people should continue to wear masks on public transport and in retail outlets.

“Nphet will be meeting in respect of the mask mandate and so on by the end of the month,” he said.

“Irrespective of whether it is mandated or not, I would recommend that people would wear masks in retail and public transport for some time yet.

“It’s a personal view I have. Decisions will be taken on the mandatory nature of masks; if they are no longer necessary, they are no longer necessary and people will no longer have to wear them.

“But we’ve learned lessons too from Covid and I think we need to adapt some of them. Particularly in the winter periods when viruses are stronger and more dangerous.”

Variants

Mr Martin said that, overall, “the news is good” in respect of the Omicron variant.

“We have to be mindful of other variants. I think the emphasis now is to make sure we continue our investment in public health and that we have systems in place that are resilient and adaptable to any future outbreaks and maybe of other variants.”

He said that was also the case in relation to the structures in place for future vaccination campaigns.

“It also relates to the vaccination structures that we have so that we can respond again and are in a position, particularly towards the latter part of the year, in terms of vaccinating particularly the more vulnerable groups in our society. Niac is looking at that whole vaccination issue and whether or not we get to a situation where there would be an annual Covid vaccine.”



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