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case surge Ireland's Covid blackspots revealed as new figures show counties with highest incidence rates

Offaly records second-highest rate followed by Westmeath


HSE chief executive Paul Reid (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

HSE chief executive Paul Reid (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

HSE chief executive Paul Reid (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

LONGFORD has emerged as the new Covid-19 blackspot as it recorded more than double the national average of the 14-day incidence rate.

Latest statistics from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show while Ireland's national 14-day incidence rate for Covid-19 cases is 172.3 per 100,000 up to Saturday, Longford's is 381.7.

The second-highest rate was recorded in Offaly, with 342.5, and the third highest is in Westmeath, with a 264.7 rate.

The fourth highest is Dublin, with a rate of 248.4.

As it was revealed that three further deaths had occurred, as well as 525 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, HSE CEO Paul Reid confirmed that despite "significant issues" with vaccine supply, the roll-out has now surpassed half a million vaccines.

He said hundreds of over-85s who are still waiting to receive their first dose will get the jab this week, while the roll-out will also be extended to high-risk groups.

At 8am yesterday, 423 Covid patients were being treated in hospital - 103 of whom were in intensive care.

As of Thursday, 493,873 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered.

346,256 people have received their first dose of the vaccine and 147,617 people have already received their second dose.

Though "short notice" on vaccine supply had recently affected the HSE's ability to distribute vaccines, Mr Reid said those aged over 85, who still waiting for their jab, will receive them next week.

The roll-out for those in high-risk categories is also expected to begin this week.

"I've communicated a lot on this [issues with delays]," Mr Reid told This Week yesterday on RTÉ Radio 1.

"We had significant issues on supply. Any given week, what supply we get is distributed that week.

"We have had some issues around AstraZeneca, which impacted us over the last couple of weeks.

"Because of efficiency levels last Friday, we had short notice of 64,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca. That impacted us. We have been assured shortfalls will be made up in the coming weeks."

Mr Reid said there had been a "slightly" rescheduled delivery of the Moderna vaccines but he expected 37,000 Moderna and Pfizer vaccines by next week.

The Sunday World has learned the roll-out of the vaccine to the over-80s will be affected in the coming weeks due to a shortage of Moderna jabs.

In an email to GPs, the HSE said jab supplies are around 15pc less than the required amount to cover all those aged over 80.

This is due to a change in the Moderna delivery schedule.

The email explained there would be a "shortfall" for the over-80s and this dispatch would be "allocated" in "your next order and so on, through March".

Niamh O'Beirne, national lead for testing and tracing at the HSE, told This Week there had been an increase of cases in childcare settings recently but so far the situation at primary schools had been "quite positive".

Cases have been found after funerals and occasionally after weddings, though funerals seem to be higher indicators for cases.

She warned the virus is highly transmissible and people must restrict movements.

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