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latest figures 'Grave concern' over Covid-19 transmission as 970 new cases and 13 further deaths confirmed

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Infection Control nurse Colin Clarke looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward at Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Infection Control nurse Colin Clarke looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward at Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Infection Control nurse Colin Clarke looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward at Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh, Northern Ireland.

There has been 970 new cases of Covid-19 and 13 further deaths in Ireland, the Department of Health has confirmed.

There is now a total of 81,228 confirmed cases, while the death toll stands at 2,171.

Of the cases notified today, 348 are in Dublin, 60 in Limerick, 59 in Cork, 59 in Wexford, 55 in Louth and the remaining 389 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

The median age is 37 years old and 64pc are under 45 years of age.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said: “The current trajectory of the disease in the community is of grave concern. In the last seven days to midnight Monday, we have reported 4,478 cases, an increase of more than 110pc over the preceding week.

"In the last 5 days, we have seen extraordinary growth in the incidence of the virus across the country, significantly increasing the level of risk associated with the kind of inter-generational mixing that is normally experienced over the Christmas holidays.

"To protect ourselves, our families and our vulnerable loved ones in particular, further economic and social restrictions will begin to be introduced from Christmas Eve. It is up to each one of us to rethink our plans for this Christmas period, especially when it comes to visiting older or more medically vulnerable family members and friends.

“With the authorisation of the first Covid-19 vaccine by the European Commission yesterday, our national vaccine programme can begin in the very near future and this gives us cause for hope.

"However, widespread vaccination of the population will take time, so we need to continue to adhere to the public health advice on hand washing, keeping 2m distance, wearing face coverings where appropriate, covering our coughs and reducing our social contacts for the duration of the Level 5 restrictions.

"By working together we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard our schools and our hospitals.”

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