Health Minister claims Gov 'did not' go against NPHET advice before outbreak

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The Health Minister has strongly denied that the Government went against public health advice when re-opening hospitality before Christmas.

Minister Stephen Donnelly doubled down on his claim and said there was “no way of knowing” what could have led to more spread when they opened hospitality instead of allowing more people in the household.

The NPHET recommendation before Christmas allowed for family gathering over the festive period, but included the closure of pubs and restaurants.

Minister Donnelly said to Virgin Media News this evening: “The Government has been following public health advice from day one.”

He continued: “You know, there’s been some focus on the fact that NPHET said open up households but close hospitality and the Government said no close down households but open hospitality. To be honest, there’s no way of knowing which of those would have led to more or less spread.”

But when pressed that they did go against public health advice by opening pubs and restaurants ahead of Christmas, despite NPHET saying to keep them closed.

He said: “No, no it didn’t. So the advice was a six-week Level 5 period for October/November. That was brought into play. The advice was then to move out of that, which we did, and the advice was to relax things around the Christmas period.

“Then, when we saw the UK variant, when we saw the cases going up, NPHET’s advice was to move to Level 3 from St Stephen’s Day. The Government moved ahead of that, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer. It was on the Friday before we moved to Level 5 that the UK variant became a big issue and concerns were raised.

“Within a few hours of the CMO having advised me that the country should move to Level 5, the Government sub-committee met and we made a recommendation the very next day which was accepted by Cabinet to move to Level 5.

“In the main areas around Level 5, Level 3, going back to Level 5, going beyond Level 5, Government and the CMO have been very closely aligned and we will remain so.”

Ireland recorded a further 4,929 causes of COVID-19 today, with eight more deaths. As of 2pm today, 1,582 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 146 are in ICU. 156 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Source: Dublin News