NPHET recommends Level 5 for six weeks, no school closures mentioned

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that the entire country be placed under Level 5 restrictions for six weeks. 

As fears grow about the spread of the virus, senior civil servants will now examine the recommendation that would see, among other measures, a ban on travel more than 5km from home, pubs and restaurants only being allowed takeaway and delivery services, and no public gatherings except for small weddings and funerals.

With border counties Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal already under Level 4 restrictions, such a move would be seen as a considerable escalation of the government’s response to date.

NPHET reported 1,205 new cases and three new deaths yesterday, with Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan saying the spread had accelerated since the group last met.

“There has been further increases across all key indicators of COVID-19 and the growth rate of the epidemic has accelerated since Nphet last met.” Holohan told a press conference yesterday.

“Cases notified over the past week have increased by 82% compared with the previous 7 days, from 3,514 to 6,382 cases. The positivity rate over the past 7 days is now 6.2% and is continuing to increase.”

“The number of hospitalisations are increasing faster than the exponential growth modelling predicted. This indicates a rapidly deteriorating disease trajectory nationally.” he added.

A government decision on the matter is not expected today as Taoiseach Micheal Martin attends meetings in Brussels this afternoon.

The recommendation does not include a move to close schools for an extended period of time, despite mounting criticism being leveled at health authorities for overlooking classrooms as a source of the spread.

Meanwhile Tánaiste Leo Varadkar reportedly told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night that there is no certainty over what Covid restrictions will be in place at Christmas or whether people will be allowed to see their families and loved ones at that point.

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