Ireland could face "same challenges" in managing Covid next winter, says plan
"There are real risks that we may face..."
Ireland could be facing the same issues managing coronavirus next winter, according to the government's latest plan.
Yesterday marked the release of the government's new plan, Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead. Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the nation yesterday evening, confirming a further six weeks of total lockdown and the Cabinet's hopes for the rest of the year.
Despite expectations that the vast majority of Irish adults will be vaccinated before the end of this year, the new plan warns that the country could still be facing "similar challenges" in controlling the virus coming into next winter.
"The expectation is that a significant majority of the population will be vaccinated by next Autumn/winter," it says. "Nevertheless, there are real risks that we may face the same challenges in controlling Covid-19 and protecting our health service as we did during this winter for a number of reasons."
These reasons are:
"1. The currently unknown impact of vaccines on transmission and the impact that variants may have remains uncertain.
"2. Opportunities for transmission increase during winter months when people are closer together indoors in poorly ventilated spaces.
"3. If the same level of social distancing measures are not in place, other respiratory infections will be in greater circulation, potentially placing a double pressure on the health service.
"4. Growing levels of fatigue with public health measures and consequent lower levels of adherence."
Taoiseach Martin said yesterday that current restrictions will be reassessed before April 5 depending on community transmission, ICU numbers, and the vaccination programme.
He also announced "three differences in the coming six weeks:" the phased reopening of schools, the reopening of childcare, and the resuming of non-Covid related healthcare services.
Leaving Cert students, junior and senior infants, and first and second class students will be returning to class on March 1. Other primary classes and 5th year secondary school students will return on March 15, and the remaining secondary school students will return on April 12.
Martin added that 82% of Irish adults should have their first dose of the vaccine by June.
You can read the Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021: The Path Ahead plan here.