26 Sept 2022

'We cannot rule out reintroduction of Covid-19 measures' - CMO Tony Holohan

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has said the possibility of a reintroduction of Covid-19 this autumn/winter cannot be ruled out.

In his opening address to the Oireacthas Health Committee, Dr Holohan said: "We cannot predict with certainty the future trajectory of the disease and, consequently, we cannot fully rule out the possibility that the reintroduction of measures may be required in the future.

“We must continue to ensure our response is agile and flexible, with an ability to pivot rapidly and respond to any emerging threat."

Earlier in his address, the CMO said basic measures like mask-wearing on public transport, indoor retail and healthcare settings would have to remain over the coming months and into next year, as would a "robust" system of self-isolation for symptomatic people, testing and tracing.

“In the context of this highly transmissible variant, it is unlikely that vaccination alone, even at the high levels of vaccine coverage that we have now achieved, will bring the effective reproduction number below 1 such that we will achieve suppression of the disease,” he said.

“This means that through this coming autumn and winter, possibly in the face of high levels of infection, we will remain dependent upon public understanding and buy-in to the basic public health measures in order to minimise opportunities for this virus to transmit”.

He said surveillance and constant monitoring of the disease will continue over the coming months.

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