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Ireland on brink after health chiefs call for lockdown

October 5, 2020 03:26 PM


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Ireland was on the cusp of a nationwide lockdown on Monday after government experts recommended ramping up coronavirus restrictions to curb a surge of new cases.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended on Sunday evening that all of Ireland move to the highest level of Covid-19 restrictions, mirroring those issued during the original lockdown in March.

Coalition government leaders were to meet the chief medical officer to discuss the matter later on Monday. But the recommendation leaves the government -- already faltering since coming to power in June -- in a difficult position.

In the past it has largely followed official health guidance over the infection, enacting some of the strictest international travel restrictions in the EU. If Dublin refuses to enact new restrictions and the decision results in further infections and deaths, the government will be perceived as wholly to blame.

However, the prospect of returning to a nationwide lockdown is likely to prove politically difficult, publically unpopular and economically devastating. In Israel a second coronavirus lockdown was initiated in September after 1,692 deaths and 265,086 cases, according to official figures.

In Ireland, there have been 1,810 deaths from the virus but just 38,032 cases to up to Sunday. The Republic's daily death toll from the virus remains low after peaking at 77 in April. However the nation is in the midst of a resurgence of new infections. Dublin and the northwest county of Donegal are already enduring localised restrictions to stem new outbreaks.



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