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making progress Taoiseach hails milestone as Ireland approaches half a million vaccination mark

Micheal Martin urged the public to remain vigilant against virus variants.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Julien Behal Photography)

Ireland is expected to reach the milestone of half a million coronavirus jabs administered this weekend.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin hailed progress in the pandemic.

Speaking in a video posted on Twitter, Mr Martin said he was inspired by recent visits to vaccination centres where thousands of front line healthcare workers are receiving the inoculation.

He said government and the HSE is doing everything it can to secure supplies and to give those vaccines to people as quickly as possible.

“Over the coming days we will have administered half a million doses since the first vaccination was given to Dubliner Annie Lynch 63 days ago,” he said.

“Next week we will begin to vaccinate those with underlying health conditions as well as continuing to vaccinate the over-70s and healthcare workers.”

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Annie Lynch (centre right), 79, is the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Ireland (Marc O’Sullivan/PA)

Annie Lynch (centre right), 79, is the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Ireland (Marc O’Sullivan/PA)

Annie Lynch (centre right), 79, is the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine in Ireland (Marc O’Sullivan/PA)

The Taoiseach said the vaccines are reducing the impact of the virus.

“This can be seen in the reduced levels of infection in our nursing homes and amongst our frontline healthcare workers,” he said.

“This brings hope, along with the continued fall in Covid numbers thanks to the sacrifices you have been making.

“The 14-day incidence level fell below 200 this week for the first time since Christmas.

“While our health services are still under pressure, the number of patients in our hospitals and ICUs is reducing significantly.”

However, the Taoiseach added a note of caution, warning that variants of the virus mean people should not relax around restrictions.

On Saturday the number of patients with Covid-19 dropped to 99 with the number of cases in hospital at 401.

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, described it as a “great sign”.

On Friday, one further death with the virus and 522 new cases were notified in the Republic of Ireland.

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Gardai talk to protesters during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre (Damian Eagers/PA)

Gardai talk to protesters during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre (Damian Eagers/PA)

Gardai talk to protesters during an anti-lockdown protest in Dublin city centre (Damian Eagers/PA)

Meanwhile, protesters calling for an end of lockdown restrictions are set to gather in Cork city centre later.

It follows a demonstration in Dublin last weekend which saw chaotic scenes in the capital, 23 arrests and three Garda officers left injured.

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