How to manage Covid without Nphet

In the middle of February, Nphet wrote to the Cabinet for the last time and advised it to lift most public health restrictions, adding that its work was effectively done.

The Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan told the Taoiseach it was time to disband the emergency team he headed.

It was a moment the whole country had been waiting for and one which should have marked the end of one of the most extraordinary periods in the history of the Irish State.

But while Nphet as we knew it has gone away, Covid-19 hasn’t and in recent weeks, the country has been swamped by a second wave of the Omicron variant, which shows no signs of subsiding.

Over the past fortnight, more than 200,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 which means one in every 25 people is currently infected,

In fact the real proportion is probably much higher given that the testing system was largely dismantled at the end of the winter.

While most infections are mild, the sheer number of cases has translated into more serious illness and massive pressure – again – on hospitals.

Without the team of public health experts to navigate the still choppy waters, who is calling the shots now and what is happening behind the scenes?

Jack Horgan Jones has written the book – literally – on the pandemic in Ireland and on Nphet’s role in it and he looks back at the high profile body’s highs and lows and talks to In The News about what might happen next.

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