Delta variant: Fears grow of 1,000 Covid-19 cases a day by July 19th

Fully vaccinated people ‘can have confidence in their vaccine’, Holohan says

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer: Nphet  reports a further 365 cases of the disease, with  51 people with Covid-19  in hospital including 14 in intensive care. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer: Nphet reports a further 365 cases of the disease, with 51 people with Covid-19 in hospital including 14 in intensive care. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/ Collins

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There are growing fears in Government that the Covid-19 Delta variant could be responsible for more than 1,000 cases a day by July 19th, the date on which international travel is due to resume and the hospitality industry hopes to reopen indoors.

Ministers are expected to be briefed at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting on updated modelling from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) which suggests that a surge of Delta variant infections is likely to be under way within 10 days to two weeks.

However, officials do not expect these cases to lead to a corresponding rise in hospital admissions as vaccination provides strong protection against falling seriously ill with Covid-19.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on Monday night said that “in excess of 70 per cent of all cases” were now accounted for by the Delta variant, but that fully vaccinated people “can have confidence in their vaccine and should feel comfortable meeting with other fully vaccinated people in all settings”.

Nphet yesterday reported a further 365 cases of the disease and said 51 people with Covid-19 were being treated in hospitals including 14 in intensive care.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also struck a cautionary note about the Delta variant, as he said there was “clear indication” that it was “beginning to have its impact”.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
286 59

“We are very worried about Delta and [case] numbers are increasing and the numbers reporting for testing is significantly up on this time last week.”

British prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced plans which, from July 19th, will see people in England no longer required by law to wear face masks in any setting and the abolition of social distancing. There will be no restrictions on the number of people who can attend licensed events and all venues including nightclubs will be allowed to reopen.

While cases have surged in the UK because of the Delta variant, hospital admissions have risen much more slowly, and deaths have been at a fraction of the levels seen earlier this year. The Government will hope to see a similar outcome here given Nphet modelling predicts a sharp increase in cases.

Hospitality industry

Government officials met hospitality industry representatives yesterday and discussed a series of options for reopening indoor dining and drinking.

Sources said six options were discussed, including using negative antigen or PCR testing and the use of a Covid certificate or pass for people to prove they have been vaccinated or had recovered from the virus in the last nine months.

As many as 1.8 million people who are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid-19 would be able to avail of indoor hospitality services, the meeting was told.

However, testing as a means to access indoor hospitality services was said by one source to be “highly unlikely” to form part of the immediate solution.

Mr Martin also reiterated the Government’s commitment to begin operating the European digital pass by July 19th, despite doubts being expressed privately by some Cabinet members and senior officials.

Ministers are expected to be told on Tuesday that printed vaccine records will be sent out by post and arrangements for a “verifier app” and a call centre are being put in place to operate the system.

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