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virus fears 'Stubbornly high' level of new Covid-19 cases, HSE's Dr Colm Henry warns

"There is a lot of illness out there. It hasn't gone away and it is much higher than it was in early December," HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said.

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Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

THE number of new cases of Covid-19 surged by 769 yesterday, with two additional deaths also reported.

The figures came as HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry warned yesterday that "a stubbornly high" level of new Covid-19 cases are still being identified every day.

Of the cases notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) yesterday, 284 were in Dublin, 67 in Donegal, 47 in Offaly, 45 in Meath, 44 in Kildare, and the remaining cases were spread across 20 other counties.

A total of 360 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19, of which 82 were in intensive care units.

The HPSC said that 75pc of the cases notified yesterday were in people under 45 years of age.

These figures came on top of the 525 confirmed cases and nine deaths reported on Saturday.

Dr Henry said: "There is a lot of illness out there. It hasn't gone away and it is much higher than it was in early December.

"As long as we see that illness out there, it is going to convert into an ongoing stream of admissions into hospital and that is what we are seeing."

He said there are also some "signals of concern" which included an increase in referrals from GPs for patients to be tested.

In relation to the potential easing of certain restrictions on April 5, in areas such as construction, Dr Henry said it would be a decision for Government based on the public health advice from Nphet.

"Certainly we would all like to see the numbers get down lower. The lower they get, the more choices we have as a society," he said on the This Week programme on RTÉ Radio 1.

Meanwhile, under current projections, all over-70s will have received their first Covid-19 jab by the middle of April.

By mid-May, this group will have received their second dose, according to Susan Clyne, CEO of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

The latest vaccination figures showed that as of March 18, 654,251 doses of vaccine had been administered in Ireland. A total of 478,725 people have received their first dose and 175,526 people have received their second dose.

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