DUBLIN - Ireland remains on track to further ease COVID-19 restrictions in early July with the resumption of indoor restaurant and bar services despite an increase in the presence of the COVID-19 Delta variant, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.
The more infectious variant first detected in India accounted for up to 20% of cases reported in Ireland in the last week, the chief medical officer said on Monday, describing the increase as concerning.
The incidence rate has been falling steadily in recent weeks in Ireland, which has partly vaccinated around two-thirds of all adults and has fully protected around one-third. It reported 284 new cases on Monday, one of the lowest daily counts this year.
"I think when it comes to the Delta variant, there is definitely reason for concern, not reason for panic at this stage. We're still on track to ease restrictions further on July 5," Leo Varadkar told reporters on Tuesday ahead of a final decision on the reopening late next week.
"We are on our way out of this, there are going to be some bumps on the road. Vaccines are the answer but we need to keep a close eye on the situation for the next couple of weeks."
Ireland has reported 269,321 COVID-19 cases among its 4.9 million population, with 4,979 related deaths.
(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by Angus MacSwan) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +353 1 500 1504; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))