covid concern | 

Dr Holohan warns that any ease in restrictions for December depends on the next two weeks

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, is concerned over the high number of cases

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, is concerned over the high number of cases

Eilish O'Regan

Concern is increasing that Ireland will not reach the target of 100 cases of Covid-19 per day in early December despite the Level 5 lockdown.

This will have implications for the easing of restrictions around Christmas.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said last night the country will exit Level 5 lockdown by early December, even if the 100-cases-a-day target is not possible.

However, he was speaking as 11 more deaths and 366 more cases of the virus were reported yesterday amid "increasing concern" from chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Dr Holohan said the five-day moving average of daily cases has increased from an average of 350 cases on November 11 to 424.

He again warned that with two weeks of lockdown to go, the lower the incidence in early December, the "more flexibility the country will have in easing measures".

It is expected that a higher level of cases would result in a lower relaxation of measures.

Mr Donnelly said there is no appetite not to exit Level 5 in two weeks.

"Six weeks is a long period of time. It's 366 today but it was 1,200 four weeks ago. There is time and if we don't hit the 100 it does not mean we will not exit Level 5.

"Obviously, the Government and Nphet will consider a wide variety of measures," he told RTÉ news.

As of 2pm yesterday, 272 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of whom 24 were in intensive care.

There were 14 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

The cases yesterday included 84 in Dublin, 44 in Limerick, 34 in Cork, 34 in Donegal and 24 in Roscommon. The remaining 46 cases were spread across 20 other counties.

The national 14-day incidence rose to 121.3 per 100,000, up from 120.4 per 100,000 on Monday.

Donegal continues to have the highest 14-day incidence at 282 per 100,000, rising from 269.5 per 100,000 on Monday. It also rose in Limerick, Roscommon and Waterford.

Meanwhile, a new report confirmed that the main underlying conditions of people who were infected with Covid-19 are chronic heart disease, neurological disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, chronic liver disease, hypertension, asthma requiring medication, immunodeficiency, diabetes, obesity, cancer and pregnancy.

Up to midnight on November 14, there were 67,900 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The figures showed 57.3pc had no underlying condition while some 25.1pc had an underlying medical condition.

Of those with an underlying condition reported, 47.5pc had one underlying medical condition, 22.6pc had two underlying medical conditions and 15.9pc had three of more underlying medical conditions.

A further 14pc had no specific underlying medical condition reported.

The information comes as the EU has struck a deal for up 405 million doses of German biotech firm CureVac's potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The deal with CureVac follows EU supply agreements with AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and Pfizer for a combined 1.4 billion doses of their potential vaccines.

"I am glad to announce a new agreement to buy up to 405 million doses of a vaccine produced by the European company CureVac," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, adding the contract was negotiated after EU funding to the company to develop its vaccine.

The EU, with a population of about 450 million, has been in talks with CureVac for its experimental Covid-19 vaccine since at least July.

Ireland will benefit from these deals and can purchase a 1pc share of the vaccines.

Under advance purchase agreements negotiated by the EU during the pandemic, the bloc makes a non-refundable down payment to a vaccine maker to secure a certain number of doses for an agreed price.

This will then be paid by EU states willing to buy the shot only after it is authorised as safe and effective by the EU drugs regulator.

The price agreed for the vaccine has not been disclosed.

Moderna confirmed the European Medicines Agency has started a rolling review process of its vaccine.

It said it is scaling up global manufacturing to be able to deliver 500 million doses a year and possibly up to one billion doses a year, beginning in 2021.

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