Pandemic ‘not over’ but ‘safe to return’ to all activities, Holohan to say

CMO expected to give upbeat assessment of virus situation but pandemic ‘not over’

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan will on Wednesday tell the Oireachtas health committee that while the Covid-19 pandemic "is not over, it is safe to return to the activities we all enjoy".

Dr Holohan is expected to provide an upbeat assessment of the situation regarding the disease in the State around 10 days after almost all restrictions were lifted.

In a draft opening statement to the committee, he highlights the reduced demand for testing, lower rates of test positivity and a reduction in the number of cases ending up in hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs).

The number of people being treated in hospital for the disease stood at 624 on Tuesday, down 200 on the same day last week. This included 66 people being treated in ICU, down 13 in a week.


The Department of Health on Tuesday reported a further 4,208 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in addition to the 6,410 positive antigen tests that were logged through the HSE’s online portal.

In his remarks, Dr Holohan says “the epidemiological profile of Covid-19 nationally provides a broadly positive outlook”.

He says incidence of the disease remains high, but has reduced from its peak and that Covid-19 related mortality remains relatively stable.

Dr Holohan goes on to credit the population’s engagement with the vaccination programme for the “much improved situation”. He says that it remains “critical” for people to self-isolate if they have symptoms.

‘Greatly reduced’

Dr Holohan is to note that the removal of restrictions will cause anxiety for some people who are immunocompromised or more vulnerable to the severe effects of Covid-19.

“I wish to assure those who may be anxious that the risks associated with Covid-19 are greatly reduced through vaccination and that, with appropriate caution, they should go about their daily lives,” his statement says.

More broadly he adds: “It is important that people are assured that, while the pandemic is not over, it is safe to return to the activities we all enjoy – in terms of socialising, exercise, family, work and travel.”

Dr Holohan says Omicron, which fuelled the surge in cases after Christmas, is unlikely to be the last variant of concern to emerge and that “the global public health risk remains very high”.

“Therefore, we must remain vigilant and ensure that our response is agile and flexible, with an ability to respond rapidly and appropriately to any emerging threat.”

Meanwhile, four further people who recently tested positive for Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland and another 4,622 cases were reported on Tuesday.

There were 337 Covid-19 inpatients in the North’s hospitals on Tuesday, including 21 people in intensive care.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times