Health experts to meet to review surging coronavirus cases in Ireland

Health experts in Ireland are to consider renewed coronavirus restrictions amid surging case numbers.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin described the situation as “deeply concerning” after 200 cases were reported on Saturday – the largest daily increase since the start of May.

On Sunday, 66 further cases were reported. More than two thirds of the confirmed cases over the weekend relate to individuals aged under 45.

Mr Martin, deputy premier Leo Varadkar, Green Party leader and Government minister Eamon Ryan, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn met on Sunday to discuss the situation.

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Three countries in Ireland – Offaly, Kildare and Laois – are already subject to localised lockdowns after they experienced a spate of outbreaks linked to meat plants.

Dr Glynn will join fellow members of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Monday to discuss the situation.

He said there had been about 1,100 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 14 days, with every county in Ireland affected.

The plan to reopen schools at the end of the month will be among the moves reviewed by NPHET at the meeting.

On Sunday, Dr Glynn warned that reckless behaviour could undermine efforts to suppress Covid-19.

The comments come after social media footage emerged of scenes from Dublin city centre venue Berlin D2 on Saturday that showed people dancing in close proximity and a man standing on a bar appearing to pour alcohol into the mouths of revellers below.

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Restaurateur Jay Bourke, who is involved with the restaurant, told RTE he was mortified by the footage. The scenes were branded “outrageous and appalling” by the Licensed Vintners Association.

Dr Glynn said: “NPHET will meet tomorrow to review and discuss the case figures that have been reported in recent days and will make any necessary recommendations to Government which are required to protect the vulnerable, continue with the resumption of healthcare services and ensure the safe reopening of our schools.

“The phased reopening of the country has afforded people the opportunity to socialise with each other again.

“However, some are doing this recklessly and undermining the efforts of the majority of people around the country who are following public health advice.

“This cannot continue. This pandemic isn’t over just because we are tired of living with it.

“We must all learn to behave and interact in a new way over the coming months so that Covid-19 cannot take root again in our communities. Please avoid crowds, reduce your social contacts, keep your distance from others, wash your hands and wear face coverings.”

Garda checkpoint
Garda checkpoint

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Martin tweeted: “Yesterday’s #COVID19 numbers were deeply concerning and this morning I discussed the evolving situation with the Tanaiste, Green Party Leader, Health Minister and acting CMO.

“It’s essential that we adhere to the public health guidance and maintain social distancing to suppress this virus #HoldFirm,” he added.

The total number of Covid-19 cases in Ireland since the outbreak began now stands at 27,257.

There were no further deaths reported over the weekend, with Ireland’s toll remaining at 1,774.