03 Dec 2021

Dr Tony Holohan steps away from Covid-19 pandemic battle due to wife's illness

Dr Holohan urges every person in Ireland to make the fight against Covid-19 an individual mission

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin praises Dr Tony Holohan for his leadership during the pandemic

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer

The doctor who has led Ireland's fight against Covid-19 is to step away from his role to spend time with his family and care for his wife who has cancer and is receiving palliative care.

Dr Tony Holohan, Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, made a personal statement at the end the media briefing at the Department of Health where he urged every Irish person to make the fight against Covid-19 an individual mission.

"From today I'll be taking time out from all of my work commitments to be with my family. My wife Emer was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2012. She's had a number of difficult years with her disease and was admitted for palliative care last Saturday and I now want to give my energy and attention and all of my time to Emer and to our two teenage children Clodagh and Ronan," he said.

He urged everyone in Ireland to make the fight against the virus an individual challenge.

“What has been a collective and effective national effort to suppress COVID-19 in Ireland, now also becomes an individual mission. Every person must risk assess their own environments, make appropriate decisions about where they will go and who they will meet, and how they can ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.

“Continue to follow public health advice, understand the risks of your actions and environments and stay safe,” he said.

An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, thanked Dr Holohan for helping to guide this country through the Covid-19 emergency. 

"His work, experience and briefings helped people to understand the gravity of the situation facing us, while his calmness reassured us that if we followed the guidelines and advice we would overcome these great challenges together.

“Every home in Ireland has come to know Dr Tony Holohan. His leadership during the pandemic has given us all confidence that the decisions being made are based on solid public health advice. As a country we owe him and his family a great debt of gratitude," he said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, who has been at Dr Holohan's side, has been appointed acting chief medical officer.

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