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Appeal for people on both sides of border to abide by Covid rules this Easter

Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer and Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer appealed for people to adhere to public health advice.

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A man walks past a mural by Emmalene Blake in Dublin’s city centre (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

A man walks past a mural by Emmalene Blake in Dublin’s city centre (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

A man walks past a mural by Emmalene Blake in Dublin’s city centre (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Top health officials on both sides of the border have urged people to “stick” to Covid-19 public health guidelines over the Easter weekend to avoid a fourth wave of infection.

In a joint statement, Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn and Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride appealed to people across the island to celebrate safely this Easter.

They said Easter is a time when people traditionally spend time with their families and loved ones but this year the virus continues to spread and cause serious illness and death.

“Please continue to stick with the public heath advice,” they urged.

That does undermine people's confidence in the vaccine rollout and is terribly unfair on people who've been cocooningLeo Varadkar

“Do not give this virus the opportunities it is seeking to spread.”

“There are much brighter days ahead,” they added.

“If we can stick with these measures, we can avoid another wave and all of us, together, will be able to look back as a society, and reflect proudly on how we came together to protect each other and save lives.”

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Thursday saw 761 new cases of the virus confirmed in Ireland as well as 12 deaths.

In Northern Ireland, an additional 107 confirmed cases of the virus were recorded. There were no further deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 reported.

It comes as Ireland’s plan to ramp up the vaccine rollout in April was dealt another blow after the Tanaiste said there will be a drop in the expected number of vaccines delivered this month.

Leo Varadkar said that fewer than a million doses of the vaccine will be delivered in April.

Last week, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told the Dail that 1.1 million doses were scheduled to be delivered over the next four weeks.

“I would like to get about a million a month through April, May and June, but it will be less than a million in April, more than a million in May and June,” Mr Varadkar said on Thursday.

Mr Varadkar said the Government can never be certain about supplies, adding that things can go wrong.

“We do expect to have most adults vaccinated by the end of May and the vast majority of adults offered their first dose no later than the end of June,” he added.

Some 112,000 vaccines arrived in Ireland on Wednesday, which means the Government reached its projection of receiving 1.187 million vaccines in the first quarter of the year.

The Government also plans to administer a total of one million doses by April 7.

On Wednesday, Mr Donnelly told the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting that 860,000 vaccines would be delivered in April.

It will be less than a million in April, more than a million in May and JuneTanaiste Leo Varadkar

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said: “Can you clarify just exactly what is the situation in relation to the number that will be vaccinated in April?”

The Kildare North TD also said the controversy over the Beacon Hospital has “undermined” social solidarity.

The private hospital in Dublin has been at the centre of controversy after it emerged that it used spare jabs to vaccinate teachers from an exclusive school.

The hospital has launched an independent investigation.

“I talk to people in their 30s and 40s with advanced cancers. In most cases, they have children,” Ms Murphy added.

“Many I talked to told me that they literally haven’t been able to leave the house for the last year because of the risk of Covid.

“People with conditions like CF (cystic fibrosis) or serious cardiac conditions, people describing just how afraid they are, often talking to you trying to hold back the tears.

“I don’t think it’s fully appreciated just how damaging this scandal has been and how it undermines social solidarity.

“None of us like the restrictions, and we all feel that the last year has been a stolen year, but with someone with a life-limiting condition and the precious moments that they spend indeed with their children is beyond calculation in terms of the importance of time.

“The vaccine wasn’t stolen from you and I, it was stolen from those in cohort four. That’s just the reality of it.

“There has to be consequences otherwise we will see this happen again.”

Mr Varadkar said that what happened at the Beacon was “wrong”.

“The Government’s rules and the Government regulations, the HSE’s rules and regulations, were not followed,” he added.

“That does undermine people’s confidence in the vaccine rollout and is terribly unfair on people who’ve been cocooning or people who’ve been stuck in their homes for the best part of the year.”

Mr Varadkar said the decision to overhaul the vaccination rollout plan was made on public health advice from doctors and scientists from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.

After the most vulnerable and people over 70 have been inoculated, the rollout will be based on age groups, and not occupations as previously planned.

“It’s made for very good reasons, and a very good reason is that people in their 50s and 60s are at much higher risk of getting severely ill or dying from Covid than people in their 20s and 30s,” Mr Varadkar said.

The Tanaiste added that there is no group or profession, other than healthcare workers, at higher risk of getting severely ill or dying from Covid, than the average person in their 60s.


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