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Ongoing concern over recent Covid-19 figures, Holohan warns

The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 102.4.

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Covid-19 testing facility at Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

Covid-19 testing facility at Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

Covid-19 testing facility at Dublin Airport (Brian Lawless/PA)

There is strong reason for “persistent, ongoing concern” over Ireland’s recent Covid-19 figures, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned.

Dr Holohan said it is not too late for people to make changes to their plans to socialise over Christmas and he urged people to bear in mind that they may well be the link in the chain of transmission.

His comments come as five more people died of the virus, bringing the total death toll to 2,154.

The Department of Health also reported 527 new cases of the virus.

Dr Holohan said: “The figures we are seeing across all key indicators of disease severity continue to give us strong reason for persistent, ongoing concern.

“As we head into a week with uniquely risky inter-household and inter-generational mixing, please remember to act responsibly.

“Start this weekend. It is never too late to cut down your contacts, cancel plans, or avoid a crowd,” he said.

“Bear in mind that you may well be the link in a chain of transmission that ends with a vulnerable loved one catching this dangerous disease. Stop that chain of transmission now – limit your movements today.”

The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 102.4.

There were 207 patients with Covid-19 in hospital including 28 in ICU. There were 12 additional admissions to hospital in a 24-hour period.

Of the 527 new cases reported on Saturday 191 were in Dublin, 54 in Cork, 44 in Donegal, 32 in Wexford, 27 in Kilkenny, and the remaining 179 cases were spread across 20 other counties.

Director of the National Virus Research Laboratory, Dr Cillian De Gascun, said a new variant of Covid-19 found in London has not been found here but he said Irish authorities will be vigilant for the new strain over Christmas.

Dr De Gascun said: “Our public health guidance here is to avoid non-essential travel so hopefully we won’t see it imported over the coming weeks but obviously if we do and if we have cases that have returned from the UK then we’ll work with our public health colleagues to identify those cases and prioritise them for sequencing.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson cancelled Christmas for millions of people across London and south-east England after scientists said that the new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

On Saturday Mr Johnson announced that from Sunday, areas in the South East currently in Tier 3 will be moved into a new Tier 4 – effectively returning to the lockdown rules of November.

Ireland relaxed its Covid-19 restrictions on Friday, allowing inter-county travel over Christmas until January 6 and permitting three households to meet indoors.

But tougher restrictions are set to be imposed before the New Year.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin confirmed on Friday that pubs and restaurants will be closed before New Year’s Eve.

He said he would recommend to Cabinet that gastropubs and restaurants now close early.

Public health bosses have recommended stricter measures to Government, including that pubs and restaurants be closed before the New Year and greater restrictions be placed on household visits after Christmas.

It comes after the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned that cases of Covid-19 are accelerating faster than anticipated after restrictions were eased at the beginning of December.

Online Editors


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