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positive signs Irish patients hospitalised due to Covid at lowest level since mid-December


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Health care assistant prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (Nick Potts/PA)

Health care assistant prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (Nick Potts/PA)

Health care assistant prepares the BioNTech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine (Nick Potts/PA)

THE number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has fallen to levels not seen since the middle of December.

New figures released yesterday show the number of patients with the virus has dropped to 192 although 49 people remain seriously ill in intensive care.

A further 12 Covid-19-related deaths were reported and 431 people were newly diagnosed with the virus.

It comes as the number of outbreaks among extended families rose last week, including the Easter holiday.

Outbreaks in private houses increased to 34, a rise of 13 on the previous week.

However, it's likely the Easter break will not lead to a surge in infections. The incubation period for Covid-19 is on average five to six days, however, it can be up to 14 days.

Yesterday's cases included 160 in Dublin, 50 in Kildare, 34 in Donegal, 21 in Meath, 20 in Limerick with the remaining 146 cases spread across 20 other counties.

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Dr Deirdre Mongan: Concern over home-drinking

Dr Deirdre Mongan: Concern over home-drinking

Dr Deirdre Mongan: Concern over home-drinking

Sligo has had no cases in the last five days, Kilkenny has had just two, as has Leitrim.

The figures were released as a new study shows that the pandemic has led to more people drinking at home.

Research from the Health Research Board included a look at drinking during the pandemic over the past year.

Data released by Revenue in March 2021 has shown that consumption fell by 6.5pc during this time, a relatively small drop given that pubs have been shut for most of the year.

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Beer consumption fell 17pc in 2020 compared with 2019, while wine consumption increased by 12pc.

Research officer Dr Deirdre Mongan said: "All signs point to substituting drinking in trade premises with drinking at home. This is concerning in particular for households with children, as research shows that children exposed to parental drinking at high levels are vulnerable to adverse outcomes."

The report includes a number of positive findings.

One in four Irish people report not drinking alcohol at all in the past year, compared with rates in England and Scotland of 18pc and 16pc.

Moreover, there has been a continuous decrease in the percentage of schoolchildren who drink alcohol or report having been drunk on at least one occasion, in particular among 13- to 15-year-olds.

Dr Mongan said: "This is an encouraging finding, as this group is particularly vulnerable to experiencing alcohol- related harm.

"However, it is important to note we have not seen a similar trend in older age cohorts, with little change apparent in the drinking ­patterns of 17-year-olds, for example."

Separately, any future attempts to reduce the spread of Covid-19 should be focused on tackling close airborne transmission of the virus which is considered to be the primary route for its circulation, according to an editorial published today in the British Medical Journal.

Respiratory experts argue it is now clear that Covid-19 is most likely to transmit between people at close range through inhalation rather than through contact with surfaces or longer range airborne routes.

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