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Latest figures Coronavirus Ireland: 12 further deaths and 1,620 new cases confirmed

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There has been a further 12 Covid-19 related deaths while 1,620 new cases of the virus confirmed by the Department of Health this evening.

This brings the Covid-19 death toll to 2,237 while the total number of confirmed cases in Ireland now stands at 91,779.

A total of 794 are men and 819 are women.

Of the cases notified today, 498 are in Dublin, 203 in Limerick, 89 in Galway, 73 in Cork, 67 in Mayo and the remaining 690 cases are spread across all other counties

The median age is 34 years old and 65 pc are under 45 years of age.

As of 2pm today, 490 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 42 are in ICU. 58 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “We are once again in the mitigation stage of this pandemic.

"The alarming escalation in the incidence of the virus in the general population gives great cause for concern. This disease is now widespread in our communities and as a result we are asking everyone to behave as if they are a close contact.

“To support the testing system through this surge, we are no longer advising close contacts of confirmed cases to get tested.

"Testing and tracing is an exercise in containment and we are no longer in a containment phase. However, it is imperative that if you are a close contact of a confirmed case you restrict your movements and contact your GP immediately if you develop symptoms.

“The average number of contacts per case has risen from 2.5 in November to an average in recent days of 6.3.

"This is very far from where we need to be and I am appealing to everyone at every age to adhere to the mandated restrictions that the government has introduced – stay at home, except for essential reasons, other than for exercise up to 5km.”

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE, said: “The pressure on our public health system, including testing and tracing services is not sustainable.

"A collective response by every individual, across every county, to follow the public health advice is essential to address the recent acceleration in case numbers that we are now seeing.

"The reintroduction of Level 5 restrictions is essential to protect our vital public services such as hospital admissions and non-COVID care and to have the maximum impact in shortest possible timeframe to minimise the spread of this disease.”

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “While we are currently in a very serious situation, we are not powerless against COVID-19. The best tool we have right now is each other. We have shown on multiple occasions that we can act collectively to break chains of transmission, reduce the intensity of this epidemic and slow down the increase in cases.

“As we look to the New Year, we remember the 2,237 people who have sadly died with COVID-19 in Ireland in 2020, along with all of their families and loved ones who are grieving their loss. Let’s do all we can to ensure that as few families as possible are similarly impacted in 2021.”

Prof. Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said: “The epidemiological situation is very serious and the virus is spreading rapidly amongst all age groups, increasing the risk to those most vulnerable to severe infection, such as the medically vulnerable and people over 60 years of age. The reproduction number is at least 1.6-1.8. The daily growth rate is estimated now at 7%-10% giving a doubling time of 7-10 days or less.

“We project significant further increase in cases and hospitalisations in the coming days before public health measures take effect and are likely to see over 700-1000 people in hospital with COVID-19 early in the New Year. While it is difficult to face into further restrictions, it is vital that everyone plays their part by following the public health advice to protect those most vulnerable in the population.”

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