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virus surge Rise in Covid-19 cases linked to ‘increased mobility and interactions,' says Stephen Donnelly

The Health Minister said cases were still high and had been rising in recent days.

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said there would be a ‘step change’ in the number of people being vaccinated from next month (Oireachtas TV/PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said there would be a ‘step change’ in the number of people being vaccinated from next month (Oireachtas TV/PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said there would be a ‘step change’ in the number of people being vaccinated from next month (Oireachtas TV/PA)

A sharp drop in the number of Covid-19 cases among vaccinated cohorts has been offset by an increase in cases associated with social interactions and movement, the Health Minister has warned.

Stephen Donnelly said that cases were still high and had been rising in recent days.

He said that while people were “understandably frustrated”, the pandemic would come to an end.

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More than 700,000 vaccines have been administered in Ireland to date (Brian Lawless/PA)

More than 700,000 vaccines have been administered in Ireland to date (Brian Lawless/PA)

More than 700,000 vaccines have been administered in Ireland to date (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Donnelly also told the Dail there would be a “step change” in the number of people being vaccinated from next month.

To date, more than 700,000 vaccines have been administered in Ireland.

By the end of this month, the country will have received approximately 1.1 million doses of coronavirus vaccine.

But Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane said the number of vaccines received in the first quarter fell short of what was promised as part of the advanced purchase agreements.

There are doubts about whether the shortfall will be made up over the coming weeks and months after the Health Minister said that AstraZeneca had not committed to fulfilling its original obligations.

Mr Donnelly said he was “very frustrated” with AstraZeneca, particularly after it reneged on some of its commitments.

He added: “It must feel to many that this pandemic will never end, many people are very understandably frustrated at what can seem a largely unchanging landscape.

“But pandemics do end. This pandemic will end too. It’s end is firmly in sight.

“Next month we are due to begin to receive deliveries of a fourth vaccine, made by Janssen.

“The number of cases amongst those aged 85 and older over the past two weeks has fallen by nearly a half.

Cases are still high and have been rising in recent days. What we are seeing is a big fall in cases associated with the vaccinated cohorts and that big fall is being offset by increase in cases being associated with increased mobility and interactionsHealth Minister Stephen Donnelly

“In April, we are due to receive about a million vaccine doses. In May, and then again in June, we are also due to receive around a million vaccines a month. As always, this is dependent on the pharmaceutical companies delivering to the agreed amounts.

“If they do, then four in every five adults in Ireland can be offered either one or two vaccine doses by the end of June.

“For April, we are not looking at an incremental increase, we are looking at a step change in the number of people being vaccinated.

“Huge progress has been made since January. Ireland has one of the lowest Covid cases in Europe.

“Cases are still high and have been rising in recent days. What we are seeing is a big fall in cases associated with the vaccinated cohorts and that big fall is being offset by increase in cases being associated with increased mobility and interactions.”

Mr Cullinane was also critical of Government measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

“The contract we made with people is that they would abide by very tough restrictions, and they have been doing so, and the State would step up its responsibilities and make sure what is under their control, they would get right,” Mr Cullinane added.

“In areas of test and trace, travel and quarantine and the vaccine rollout, we fell short in the first quarter.”

Mr Donnelly said he had been assured by the HSE that there was a sufficient number of vaccinators to meet the rise in supply of vaccines from next month.

Meanwhile, a number of walk-in testing centres have opened in Dublin and Co Offaly.

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