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21st Mar 2022

Ireland in fresh Covid wave but no restrictions planned, says Varadkar

Dave Hanratty

The Tánaiste said the new spike in Covid cases is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”.

Ireland is in the midst of a fresh Covid wave yet restrictions will not return, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

As of Sunday (20 March), over 1,000 people are hospitalised in relation to the virus.

Speaking on Sunday as part of a commemoration ceremony for those who have lost their lives to Covid-19, the Tánaiste noted that a current spike in Covid cases is “a cause for concern, not a cause for panic”.

Varadkar said that the Government is closely monitoring the situation.

“This is another wave but we don’t anticipate it will necessitate the reimposition of restrictions,” he said.

“But other things need to continue. We need to make sure that people have their boosters and third doses.”

Varadkar said that the implementation of a fourth vaccine dose is under consideration, though this would likely be reserved for older and more medically vulnerable individuals.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was unable to attend the ceremony as planned, having contracted Covid-19 during his trip to America as part of the St Patrick’s Festival celebrations.

The Taoiseach will miss further events this week as he continues to self-isolate.

It is unclear precisely when he will travel back to Ireland, though Friday has been mooted as a possibility.

Speaking following the ceremony on Sunday, Tánaiste Varadkar paid tribute to frontline workers for their efforts throughout the pandemic.

“Today we remember all those who lost their lives due to Covid and their families and friends who grieve for them,” he said.

“It’s also an opportunity to give thanks to all those on the front line who led our response.

“You showed us Ireland at its best.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney noted that it was a “privilege” to attend the event.

“We remember everyone lost to Covid-19 and their families who continue to carry the burden of loss,” he said.

“We acknowledge the heroic work and sacrifice of so many on the front line to keep us safe.”

Hours before the ceremony took place, at least one major hospital in the country applied fresh restrictions on visitors.

University Hospital Limerick announced a return to restrictions on Sunday due to “very high” Covid levels detected amongst in-patients.

“We regret the imposition of visiting restrictions so soon after we began to lift them,” said a spokesperson.

“The decision has been taken to help keep all patients and staff safe, and to ensure that the hospital’s essential services can remain open at this time.”

Featured Image of Leo Varadkar via Sam Boal /