Coronavirus Ireland: record 7,836 new cases and 17 further deaths confirmed as schools to close and construction to be halted until January 31

Taoiseach Micheal Martin addressing the nation at Government Buildings (Julien Behal Photography)

Eoghan Moloney

There have been 7,836 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed and 17 further deaths of people who contracted the virus, the Department of Health has confirmed this evening.

This takes the total number of cases in the State to 121,154 while the number of people who have lost their lives to the virus stands at 2,299.

There have been 2,263 new cases confirmed in Dublin, 1,373 in Cork, 496 in Louth, 345 in Limerick, 340 in Meath and the remaining 3,019 cases are spread across all other counties.

As of 2pm today, there were 954 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 88 are in ICU. 105 people were hospitalised in the past 24 hours with Covid-19.

Of the cases notified today; 3,740 are men and 4,078 are women; 63pc are under 45 years of age and the median age is 36 years old.

Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “The country is in a serious phase of this surge of COVID-19. There is evidence of an increasing presence of the UK variant in Ireland. All counties have an upward trajectory of the disease. There is concerning escalation of admissions to hospital and ICU. We are very likely to see escalating mortality and ICU admissions in the coming days and weeks.

“It has never been more important, throughout our experience of this pandemic, to stay home and only meet people outside of your household for essential purposes, always adhering to public health advice; physical distance, hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, wearing a face covering.”

The national 14-day incidence rate has continued to climb and now stands at 819 cases per 100,000 population, equating to almost one in 120 people having the disease in the last two weeks.

Earlier this evening, cabinet signed off on further restrictions including the closure of schools, except for Leaving Cert students and special education schools until January 31.

Childcare services will also remain closed except for the children of essential workers and to children who have "difficult home lives" the Taoiseach said.

The majority of constructions projects will also be halted as of Friday at 6pm until January 31, with exceptions for projects such as essential home repairs, health service and social housing builds.

Earlier today, the European Medicines Agency granted authorisation for the use of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to EU member states, with the first doses of the vaccine expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

At the government Covid-19 media briefing earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar hoped that up to 60,000 people per week would be vaccinated by early February due to the authorisation of the Moderna vaccine.

He said it was the plan to have all nursing home residents and staff, healthcare workers, elderly people and those chronically ill vaccinated by the end of March.

"In order to do this, though, we have to stay at home so we can get the vaccines to them before the virus dies," Mr Varadkar said.

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