Having ambulances from the National Ambulance Service in the South on standby indicates how stretched our health and social care services are.

The Health Services Executive (HSE) in the South confirmed that they were providing assistance given the likelihood of increased emergency calls. This was last done in December.

The Ambulance Service warned that less serious conditions would "potentially face lengthy delays" due to staff levelling, demand on services, long turnarounds and to consider other care options. The police and the fire service have also been asked to assist. The HSE stated that it was their plan to support colleagues in the NIAS (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service) to maintain service and pre-hospital care.

There have been a further 511 new cases of Covid-19 but only one death and 2,130,073 vaccines have been administered of which 1,186,295 are first doses, 943,778 are second doses. Total deaths now stand at 2,158.

Proof of vaccination maybe required to dine indoors from 26 July in the south, according to proposals to be debate in the Dáil today. 

Locally, the debate continues about relaxing restrictions such as face masks and social distancing. An indicative date of 26 July has been set in the North to reduce the legal requirement for social distancing. But these moves do not include face masks which will be included in relaxing restrictions in England from 19 July.  

There have been 2,883 positive cases of Covid-19 reported, up 1,700 from the previous week. Occupancy in hospital is at 104 per cent. There are five patients with Covid in ICU and a total of 37 in hospital with Covid.

One of the patients in ICU is on a respirator. The proposed relaxing of Covid restrictions in England has been described as "reckless" by Sinn Féin and the Labour Party —especially when infection numbers have been increasing rapidly.

It is said on the one hand that the link between Covid is "severed" and the other hand that it is "severely" broken but the data is there to see and many medical and scientific experts are not as keen on relaxing some of the public health measures as are some politicians.  

In addition to a possible surge in hospital admissions in August there are other health concerns such as the shock revelation of 60,000 waiting more than a year for surgery.

Figures show 84,442 patients on operation waiting lists as of 31 March. The number of lives lost to suicide increased by more than 30 per cent in the last four years. There is also an apparent rising tide of violence being endured by healthcare staff and it is thought that this may have arisen alongside frustrations in the pandemic.

This does not seem to be the optimal time to relax our vigilance.