Concern at rising Covid-19 numbers expressed by Tánaiste to Fine Gael party

Greater use to be made of antigen testing but increased socialising seen as key issue

The Tánaiste told members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that the Covid-19 figures are ‘worrying more by the day’. File photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Tánaiste told members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party that the Covid-19 figures are ‘worrying more by the day’. File photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the rapidly rising Covid case numbers are “worrying more by the day”.

Sounding the greatest note of caution from a senior Government figure in recent months, he told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting the situation has deteriorated a lot in the past four months.

He said that in June there were around 86 cases per 100,000 people, 50 people in hospital and 15 in ICU.

It has now risen to 460 plus cases per 100,000 with 450 in hospital and more than 80 in ICU, he told colleagues.

The meeting heard the country’s number of Covid cases was growing off an already high base and while there was some evidence of vaccine waning, the main cause was increased socialisation.

The Fine Gael leader said there will be a greater use of antigen testing nationwide but it was not a panacea.

He also referred to the letter sent to the Government by Nphet this week and said it was clearly stated that restrictions could be reintroduced if numbers continued to deteriorate.

He said everyone should exercise all precautionary measures and encouraged all people to get vaccinated.

He said the vast majority in ICU are not vaccinated while half of the patients in hospital are not vaccinated.

Many of the party’s TDs and Senators expressed criticism of the lack of enforcement of the digital certificate requirement in pubs and restaurants. Garret Ahearn, a senator from Tipperary, told the meeting it was primarily pubs that were lax in enforcement, and if the situation did not change in this respect the whole hospitality industry could be in jeopardy.

Elsewhere, Michael Ring, the Mayo TD, harshly criticised the Passport Office and said that many people seeking new passports were facing long and disruptive delays.