Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan is to propose a disbanding of NPHET, alongside the ending of the last COVID-19 restrictions, including mandatory mask wearing.
NPHET has recommended ending mask mandates in almost every setting and propose a disbanding of the National Public Health Team. Tony Holohan is to propose scrapping the remaining restrictions following news of mask wearing in shops, public transport, and schools will end February 28th.
Under proposals discussed by public health officials on Thursday morning, NPHET will recommend Government remove all legal requirements regarding face coverings. However, it continues to strongly advise on the wearing of face coverings on public transport as it can be an unavoidably busy, crowded setting. The team’s advice on public health guidelines will continue to remain that face coverings must be worn in healthcare settings.
Further recommendations from Dr Holohan suggest talks on a major scale down of the State’s mass testing system for COVID-19 will also take place. The changes, which are still being finalised, would likely involve only older people and the medically vulnerable or people in contact with those categories being sent for PCR tests. A person’s vaccination status is reported to determine eligibility for testing, whether or not they have received a booster vaccine.
Meanwhile, younger cohorts who are seen to be in general good health may not be required for PCR testing and instead, isolate at home if symptomatic or a close contact of a positive case. The CMO will put forward the list of suggestions when attending his meeting with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, this evening.
In regard to disbanding, Dr Holohan has informed NPHET colleagues that this may be the team’s final meeting on the COVID-19 response. The CMO is set to step down from his advisory role, and will no longer prejudge Mr Donnelly’s decisions made on the pandemic’s future management.