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virus toll Concern as figures show six new virus outbreaks related to travel and four to retail

There were 24 new outbreaks in residential institutions

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Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health Dublin. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health Dublin. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan at a Covid -19 update press conference at the Department of Health Dublin. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos Dublin

There were six travel-related outbreaks of Covid-19 and another four linked to shops last week, new figures revealed yesterday.

It comes amid concern about the slowing down in the rate at which the spread of the virus is falling, with a five-day moving average of 1,121.

Earlier this week chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan asked shops to review their existing protocols and ensure their staff and customers are protected as much as possible.

There have been reports of some customers complaining that certain shops are not providing enough sanitiser and that dispensers can be empty when they try to use them.

Last week also saw an increase of eight outbreaks in extended families as the number rose from 13 to 21, according to a report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Workplaces continued to figure prominently, with 29 outbreaks of the virus although there was a fall of seven compared with the previous week.

Most were in the commercial sector, followed by food production.

There were 24 new outbreaks in residential institutions, including 18 in centres for people with a disability.

And another 94 Covid-related deaths were reported yesterday, marking yet another sad day.

The deceased ranged in age from 36 to 100; 47 of the deaths occurred in February, with the others happening in January, December and November.

There were 1,013 newly diagnosed cases of the virus.

The next week will be crucial in indicating if the spread is showing a significant fall.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital fell to 1,334 and there was also a drop to 203 of patients in intensive care.

However, consultants report that in this wave more patients are sicker and are needing the highest level of care for longer.

Dr Holohan said: “While we have experienced very significant improvement in incidence over recent weeks, I am concerned that it appears to be slowing down at much too high a level of infection.

“People need to take real care in any setting in which they come into contact with others.

“In particular, workplaces and retail settings need to review their existing protocols and ensure that their staff and customers are protected as much as possible.”

He said that given the prevalence of the UK variant and how infectious it is, “it is extremely important that people take all preventative measures possible, including staying home”.

Yesterday’s new cases included .

Meanwhile, new research from the University of East Anglia in the UK shows that a single dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine provides very high protection as much as 90pc after 21 days.

This is without a top-up dose in the recommended 21-day time frame.

This is the main vaccine which has been administered here so far, with a second dose given within 28 days of the initial dose.

Researchers looked at data from Israel, where the vaccine has been rolled out.

But they warn that people’s risk of infection doubled in the first eight days after vaccination – possibly because people become less cautious.

As vaccines roll out further there is concern among health authorities across the world that vaccinated people will lower their guard and not practise the basic rules of prevention like social distancing and frequent handwashing.

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