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cases drop Virus spread drops but cities a concern with over four weeks of lockdown to go


People walk in Temple Bar pictured in Dublin during the Level 5 Covid-19 Restrictions

People walk in Temple Bar pictured in Dublin during the Level 5 Covid-19 Restrictions

People walk in Temple Bar pictured in Dublin during the Level 5 Covid-19 Restrictions

THERE are increasing signs the spread of Covid-19 is slowing down with more than four more weeks of lockdown to go.

However, there was a heavy toll again yesterday with eight deaths reported.

Overall there were 444 newly diagnosed cases of the virus, with three counties recording no additional infections.

The worst hit were Dublin with 158 new cases while there were 48 in Cork, 36 in Galway and 28 in Limerick.

The rest of the 174 cases were spread across 19 other counties.

The figures highlight the ongoing difficulties of containing the virus in larger urban areas.


Earlier, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told the Oireachtas Health Committee that the R number - which shows how many people on average a person with the virus infects others - had fallen to between 0.7 and 0.9.

The lowering R number is good news as it indicates the spread of the virus is reducing.

There has been a 40pc drop in people coming forward for testing in the past week.

There were 310 patients with the virus in hospital yesterday, including 41 in intensive care, indicating the situation was stable.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "Every piece of public health advice we have given from the outset of this pandemic is designed to keep everyone protected from the impact of Covid-19.

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"If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you are asked to restrict your movements for 14 days and to attend for your two free Covid-19 tests, one on day 0 and one on day 7.

"This is because as an identified close contact, you have come into contact with the virus. It may take some time for this to become apparent, or for you to become infectious.

"By staying at home for this entire 14-day period, you are helping to stop the spread of this dangerous disease.

"In following this important guidance, you are helping to bring this virus right back down to where we all need it to be and playing your part in this national effort."


Yesterday's figures show Cavan still has the highest 14-day incidence rate in the country at 364.9 per 100,000 .

This is followed by Meath, Donegal, Sligo, Westmeath, Carlow and Cork. Leitrim has the lowest rate.

The national 14-day incidence rate has fallen to 212.7 per 100,000.

There are about 50 nursing homes across the country battling Covid-19 outbreaks, including a home in Listowel where 19 staff and residents have contracted the virus.

Mr Donnelly told the committee that despite the improvement, the high numbers of people testing positive remains a concern.

He said there have been almost 11,000 cases of the virus diagnosed in the last two weeks alone.

The HSE is to increase its testing capacity to 140,000 - from the original target of 100,000 tests weekly.

It is also hiring more swabbers and contact tracers which will relieve staff who were seconded from other areas of the service to return to their original posts in areas like speech therapy where there are long waiting lists.

Meanwhile, there is only a small chance that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be ready by Christmas, one of the top scientists involved in its development said yesterday.

Prof Andrew Pollard said he was optimistic data showing his team's vaccine works and is safe will be available by the end of the year.

However, he said regulators would take time to examine the trials and results.

Ireland, through an EU pre-purchase agreement is one of the countries which has already invested in funding an alliance to secure early stocks of this vaccine should it be licensed.

Another 400,000 doses of the flu vaccine for adults have arrived and will be distributed to GPs and pharmacies to meet high demand.

Many people are still on waiting lists for the vaccine which was delayed due to manufacturing difficulties. Around 300,000 of the nasal spray vaccine have been delivered and a further 300,000 are due.