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Coronavirus: 938 new cases as Ireland's situation now 'most serious since March'

Thirteen deaths were also confirmed by NPHET.

CMO Dr Tony Holohan
CMO Dr Tony Holohan
Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Dec 23rd 2020, 7:25 PM

HEALTH OFFICIALS ANNOUNCED that there has been an additional 938 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Ireland.

An additional 13 deaths were also reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has said that NPHET met today has “made recommendations to government”, with the closing of non-essential retail believed to be part of the advice.

Today’s deaths bring to 2,184 the number of people who have died in this country since the start of the pandemic with a total of 82,155 cases. 

Of the cases notified today, 300 are in Dublin, 110 in Cork, 72 in Limerick, 68 in Donegal, 41 in Kildare and the remaining 347 cases are spread across 21 other counties.

The new cases come as Ireland grapples with a spike in cases that was described today as the fastest growing increase in Europe. 

NPHET has also said that “preliminary data” suggests that the new UK Covid-19 variant has been identified in Ireland for the first time. 

“Every indicator of the disease is rising and rising rapidly. Our level of concern continues to escalate. We must do all we can individually and collectively to change the course of this disease,” Holohan said this evening. 

Revise your Christmas plans to ensure social contacts are limited and that hand hygiene, physical distance, ventilation and face covering measures are in place if you must have visitors to your home.

During a Department of Health Briefing this evening, Holohan declined to outline precisely what his advice to government was but the TheJournal.ie understands it includes a recommendation to close non-essential retail. 

In announcing a move to Level 5 yesterday, the government essentially shut large parts of the economy once more but non-essential retail outlets were permitted to remain open

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronan Glynn said the current epidemiological situation is “the most serious it has been since last March”.

“People should act at all times as if they or those they come into contact with are infectious. The disease has spread across all parts of the country and all age groups, we must act now to protect each other,” he said,  

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Ireland’s five-day moving average before today was 714 cases-a-day, almost double that of this time last week. The five day moving average is now 785. 

Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET’s Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said that the situation has deteriorated further over the past two days.

“The reproduction (R) number is higher than we have reported since March at 1.5 – 1.8. The day on day growth rate is estimated at 7–9%. These data emphasise the need for us to be exceptionally careful over Christmas and to adhere strictly to public health guidance,” Nolan said. 

The R number refers to the number of other people infected by one confirmed case.

Nolan said this evening that he was “not confident” that the new Covid-19 restrictions that have been brought in would bring the R number below 1. 

“I’m not confident that they alone are sufficient, particularly given where we’re starting from, given that we’re starting from a reproduction number that’s that’s certainly 1.6 and could be as high as 1.8. It’s hard to see how that array of measures would bring reproduction number down below 1.”

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Rónán Duffy

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