Here’s the letter NPHET sent to government yesterday in advance of the decision around lifting level five. It’s 30+ pages and contains far more graphs/data than previous such letters. https://t.co/Buz2nq3by6
From top: Doctor Owen O Flynn discusses his experience with Covid-19 watched by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health at a briefing last week; Senator Michael McDowell
Independent Senator Michael McDowell in the Irish Times has called for public access to NPHET’s data, “raw or distilled” and its briefing or advice so its decisions can be “understood and evaluated”.
If decisions are to be taken by the Government on the basis of Nphet data, modelling, projections and advice, is there any case for one comma of it to be kept secret? Is there any justification for according Nphet the function of sole State advocate or editor or interpreter of unseen data or propagator of secret proposals?
With Nphet allies being granted access to the airwaves to predict 20,000 or 30,000 deaths as has recently happened, surely we are entitled to know exactly what scenarios were painted by Nphet for the Government’s consideration – and in minute detail?
We know that some of their advice around nursing homes has been wrong in the past. Likewise, we know that they have flip-flopped dramatically on the safety and utility of mask-wearing.
Exactly what were the proportions of the projected crisis that they outlined to the Government which persuaded Ministers including the sceptical Leo Varadkar to “come on board” the Nphet agenda?
Senator McDowell added:
On September 3rd, RTÉ broadcast an item about an unfortunate young doctor who contracted Covid at the age of 23. The nation was informed in detail of the very serious effects and the dangers he encountered during his treatment.
A month later, the same young doctor was presented by Nphet at its daily press conference to repeat his sorry tale. That demonstrates that Nphet does not consider itself to be a purely advisory body to the Government, but also accords itself an advocacy role.
An open letter to the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly from a group of doctors declaring no confidence in NPHET and requesting immediate review and oversight, as well as consideration of an alternative strategy ‘that might help us navigate out of this crisis’.
A report by the Special Dáil Committee on Covid-19 has recommended a public inquiry into each of the almost 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes.
The report notes how public health authorities “became overly focused on preparing acute hospitals for the ongoing pandemic in February and March” and that the State “failed to recognise the level of risk posed to those in nursing homes”.
Committee members also highlight the State’s “silo type approach…that did nothing to prevent the spread of the disease“.
…The committee recommends the public inquiry should examine the “large scale discharge of patients from acute hospitals to nursing homes at the beginning of March” as well as the response of the HSE, Department of Health, NPHET and Government to virus related difficulties in nursing homes.
The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has consistently defended NPHET’s decision not to recommend visitor restrictions on 6 March – however the committee recommends a public inquiry should examine this decision further.
TDs say there should be greater transparency around the data used by NPHET to recommend restrictions- and the data should be peer reviewed by an Independent expert panel.
From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly; Chief Medical officer Dr Tony Holohan
Claims that Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer said he spoke to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly both before and after NPHET met on Sunday, need to be addressed, say opposition TDs.
Dr Holohan said Minister Donnelly had been “clear about the level of concern that I would have, and had”.
Tanaiste leo Varadkar among others expressed surprise when NPHET’s Level 5 recommendation was leaked.
Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson claimed that the Health Minister “allowed the impression to be formed that NPHET went on a solo run”.
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said: “I am calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, to make a full statement of what he was told on Sunday morning and evening and what he did with that information.
“The country was distracted by an unseemly row between the Government and NPHET at precisely the moment when all attention should.”
Labour leader Alan Kelly (above) reiterated the calls for a Dáil statement from the minister, saying Minister Donnelly “must clear up this latest controversy”.
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, RTE’s Science Correspondent George Lee said there were serious questions for NPHET in light of their reported recommendation that the entire country move to Level 5 of the Covid-19 restrictions.
His appearance followed that of Dr Mary Favier who told journalist Audrey Carville that, if the Covid-19 trajectory continues as it currently stands, Ireland will see 1,500 to 2,000 cases per day in November.
However, Mr Lee said that, a letter from NPHET last Thursday shows that NPHET, at that point did not support a move to Level 3 nationally – nevermind the reported move to Level 5.
He also pointed that there are, as of 8am this morning, 141 patients with Covid in hospitals, 21 of whom are in ICU beds and that there are only 39 ICU beds currently available.
Taoiseach Michael Martin this morning announcing 100 new jobs at Workvivo software company in Cork
Exham House, The Fingerpost, Cork.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) ‘may advise’ Government on localised restrictions in cities such as Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway, where the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.
Speaking this afternoon in Cork, Micheál Martin said NPHET is “very concerned” about the spread of the virus in these cities.
He said he had been told by the Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn that the number of cases in Cork was “rising in a straight line“.
He said he was flagging with people now that these cities are danger areas, and steps need to be taken to control the spread of the virus there.
Mr Martin said curbing the spread of the virus remained in people’s own hands….
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will not attend tomorrow’s Oireachtas Special Covid-19 Committee
Dáil Covid-19 Committee hit with major cancellations ahead of tomorrow’s meeting. Health Minister, NPHET and HSE all now unable to attend scheduled hearing. Reason given is the ongoing work on the Winter Plan. @rtenews
Former tánaiste and justice minister, Senator Michael McDowell delivered a stinging rebuke of Nphet on foot of its recommendation to send Dublin into a fresh lockdown.
Closing down restaurants in the capital will condemn vast swathes of vulnerable, underpaid people to go home to their bedsits, or wherever they are, and spend weeks alone in those premises without proper wages, he said.
Mr McDowell said the decision to lock down has not been scientifically justified.
“It is wrong. It flies in the face of the strategy announced two weeks ago by Government that it was going to open these places again,”
“NPHET does not deserve our respect. The HSE does not deserve our respect. They are implementing policies which are cruel, wasteful, and extremely damaging to our economy and extremely damaging to public health in terms of cancer, psychiatry, psychology, and well-being across the board. It is time we stood up and demanded that these regulations be properly debated in this House.”