Ireland expects to run an extensive vaccine drive against COVID-19 and flu ahead of a potentially worrying winter surge that could lead to the reimposition of mask wearing in certain settings, Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.
Ireland dropped all COVID-19 curbs earlier this year after having one of Europe's toughest lockdown regimes. While infections are on the rise again, Varadkar said the current wave seemed to be peaking and the number of hospitalized patients was expected to start falling in the next two to three weeks.
"I'm more concerned about the next wave which will come in the winter because that will happen when we're indoors more and it might come at the same time as the flu. We haven't really had a serious flu season since 2019," he told national broadcaster RTE.
"I see a very extensive COVID and flu vaccine program happening in the early autumn...and a possibility in the winter that we may ask people to wear masks again in certain settings. I don't envisage us having to bring back restrictions that cause businesses to close, but nobody can rule that out for sure."
Varadkar added that he expects the expert committee which advises the Irish government on COVID-19 vaccinations to approve a further widespread booster program.