Taoiseach Micheál Martin has told the Dáil that a high-level taskforce has been created by the Government to oversee the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in Ireland once they are approved by the statutory authorities.
Mr Martin said that targeting people who are vulnerable to Covid-19 will be the immediate priority, adding that Ireland is due to receive roughly 1% of whatever vaccines are made available through the EU’s collective purchase scheme.
He was replying to Labour leader Alan Kelly who said the Government needed a detailed plan “very soon” on how vaccines will eventually be rolled-out by the State.
He argued that the “work programme” of the high-level taskforce would have to be regularly updated and, consequently, the public needed to be informed “on a weekly basis” about developments.
The Taoiseach said he “accepted” that regular updates would be necessary, but he declined to commit to a weekly system.
The Fianna Fáil leader added that due to significant issues, such as vaccine manufacture and transport logistics, he said it was important that there was “external expertise” on the taskforce.
Mr Martin also told the Dáil that he hopes the country will return to Level 3 restrictions in early December.
However, he said the Government might also look at certain sectors to see if it could “moderate” Level 3.
Mr Kelly had asked if the retail sector might possibly open first in December, before the hospitality sector then re-opened closer to Christmas.
Ireland will get approximately 1% of Covid-19 vaccines procured by the European Union, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil | Further Covid-19 coverage: https://t.co/dZ9bo3KpBe pic.twitter.com/WTIZIthIjr— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 11, 2020
Ireland has “for a second time” managed to turn the tide against the coronavirus, according to the Health Service Executive’s Chief Clinical Officer.
Dr Colm Henry said this was perhaps due to “learning from mainland Europe”, and implementing restrictions early.
However, he said, it is “most of all due to the collective effect of the individual efforts of every single Irish person.”
“We have managed to turn that tide again and to flatten that curve,” Dr Henry said.
“We’re seeing falling numbers of cases, a falling 14-day incidence, a falling 7-day incidence as a proportion of the 14-day in every county, bar four and a falling number of tests requested.
“This all points to us having grappled with the virus and gotten it under control a second time,” he said.
The 14-day incidence of the disease is now down by 51% compared to the previous two weeks.
The daily toll of 16 deaths due to Covid-19 announced yesterday was the highest number of deaths for 167 days and highlights that the virus is still as deadly for the most vulnerable, including the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
Overall, 1,963 people have so far died due to Covid-19 during the pandemic.
New data yesterday confirmed that 93% of them also suffered from one or more underlying medical conditions.
The most common underlying condition was chronic heart disease followed by Chronic Neurological Disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Experts remain concerned at the relatively slow progress in Co Donegal where the incidence is down by just 11% despite the county being under Level 3 restrictions for three-and-a-half weeks before Level 5 restrictions were introduced.
Overall, there are 282 patients in hospitals around the country with Covid-19 and, of these, 40 are in intensive care units.
New figures show an increase in the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in private houses in the last week.
There were 443 new outbreaks reported in private houses, bringing the total in this area to 5,285.
The number of outbreaks in schools increased by 24 in the past week to 179, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
There were 15 more outbreaks in the workplace, bringing the total to 253.
Four of these outbreaks were in the construction industry and one in the meat, poultry or fish sector.
There were 11 more outbreaks in hospitals, bringing the total to 158.
The overall number of outbreaks last week rose by 572.
It means that since the start of the pandemic in Ireland, there have been a total of 7,266 outbreaks.
The latest figures are for the week to midnight last Saturday 7 November. An outbreak is two or more linked cases.