Ireland

Live: Delta variant accelerates, Ursula von der Leyen visit, Phoenix Park protest

Delta spreading fast

The spread of the Delta variant is accelerating “much quicker” than expected, the HSE has said, while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has urged unvaccinated people to treat the pandemic “as seriously as you did at any point”.

With daily case numbers nearing 1,000 yesterday, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has indicated they will continue to grow exponentially unless public behaviour changes.

The number of patients hospitalised with the disease has increased by almost a third in the past week, with 79 people currently on wards with the virus — down one from yesterday, but remaining 57 per cent higher than last Friday.

Dr Mary Favier, a Nphet member and the Covid-19 adviser for the Irish College of General Practitioners, said that although the Delta surge has already started, it could be up to four weeks before it reaches its full force.

Intercounty travel ban

A ban on intercounty travel is now needed to contain a fourth surge of Covid-19 in Ireland, a professor from University College Cork has said.

Prof Gerry Killeen, a research chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology and co-founder of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) which advocates for a zero Covid approach, said a ban must be considered for Covid hotspots.

With international travel also set to open for people who have been fully vaccinated, recovered from the virus or recently tested negative from Monday, Prof Killeen said now is the time to allow only fully vaccinated people to travel.

Ursula von der Leyen visit

The president of the European Commission visited Ireland today and met Taoiseach Micheál Martin at the Technological University Dublin, Grangegorman.

Speaking following the meeting, Ursula von der Leyen said the Northern Ireland Protocol is the solution to issues caused by Brexit: “The Protocol is the only solution we have found with the UK after discussing that over the years.

“It is the only solution to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland and to protect the integrity of the single market.

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She also described Ireland’s handling of the pandemic as “exemplary”.

Áras an Uachtaráin protest

Protesters who gathered outside the residence of the President in Phoenix Park could be construed as “intimidating”, a Dublin City Councillor has said.

Mannix Flynn criticised the group which gathered near Áras an Uachtaráin on Thursday evening to protest Covid-19 measures and call on President Michael D Higgins not to sign indoor dining legislation.

The protesters congregated at 7pm carrying Tricolours, American flags and placards calling on the President not to sign the legislation passed by TDs on Wednesday.

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