379 new cases as Donnelly criticises Nphet expert over ‘snake oil’ comments

379 new cases as Donnelly criticises Nphet expert over ‘snake oil’ comments

Kevin Galvin & Michelle Devane

There have been 379 new cases and nine additional deaths from COVID-19.

It brings to 4,929* the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

In the South-East Wexford is the only county to have case numbers in the double figures, with 10 new cases of the virus.


Tipperary and Carlow have had six cases each, while Kilkenny has had five and Waterford less than five new cases of the virus.

As of 8am today, 117 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 34 are in ICU, 20 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health said:

"This week is a hopeful week and one that we have all been looking forward to. We have gotten to this point by working together in following the public health advice and reducing incidence of disease in our communities.


"We need to continue to focus on the measures that we know can protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 - we can plan to meet friends and family where it is safe to do so and those who have been vaccinated can have confidence in their vaccine. They are now able to get out and about and enjoy the benefits of the vaccine.

"The two primary targets as we try to exit the pandemic are vaccination and low transmission. If we can keep cases low and continue to vaccinate as many people as possible, we will find ourselves in a very different risk environment where we can see further easing of measures.

"Our task now is to keep the disease under control by following the basic measures and taking up our vaccine when it is offered to us."

It's as the Health Minister has criticised public health expert Professor Philip Nolan for comparing antigen tests to snake oil.


Stephen Donnelly described the comment by the National Public Health Emergency Team’s modelling expert as “unhelpful” and said such testing is “one of the tools” that can be used in the fight against Covid-19.

He added that antigen tests are part of Government policy.

Supermarket chain Lidl has begun selling antigen tests for €31 in its stores, but public health officials have voiced concerns over the accuracy of the tests.

In a tweet on Saturday Mr Nolan referenced Lidl’s antigen tests, saying: “Can I get some snake oil with that?”

He added: “Stay safe when socialising outdoors over the next few weeks. Small numbers, distance, masks. These antigen tests will not keep you safe.”

Mr Donnelly said there are “strongly held views” by credible people on both sides of the issue.

“I don’t think it was a helpful comment, if I’m honest,” he said. “It is government policy.

“I have great respect for Professor Nolan and I have no doubt that his concern was around people using them in the wrong way.

“And I think it is entirely possible that anybody just going into a supermarket, on picking up a pack without maybe having had a conversation about the fact that if you get a negative result, it really doesn’t necessarily mean you’re negative at all, that it could create a certain risk.

“But I think they are one part of the tool kit we have.”

The minister also said that as the technology improves and the sensitivity of tests gets better, there’s a “good chance” they will have a more important role to play.