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'We are concerned we're now in a phase of rapid growth': 3 deaths and 484 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed

The latest figures were confirmed at tonight’s NPHET briefing.

Image: Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie

Updated Dec 17th 2020, 7:30 PM

A FURTHER 484 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has said this evening.

In a statement, it said that a further three people confirmed to have Covid-19 have died.

There have now been 2,143 deaths in Ireland linked with Covid-19, along with 77,678 cases of the virus. 

Of the new cases, 150 are in Dublin, 45 in Wexford, 40 in Cork, 32 in Donegal, 29 in Limerick and the remaining 188 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

At 2pm today, there were 200 patients in Irish hospital with Covid-19, of which 31 are in ICU. 

The reproduction number of the virus is now estimated at between 1.1 and 1.3.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “The 5-day moving average is 387 per day– this is an indicator that the disease is moving quickly when compared to the previous 5-day average. The virus is spreading throughout the country, in all age groups.

“We are now getting reports of outbreaks in social settings including workplace settings, Christmas parties and funerals. I cannot stress enough how important it is to limit your interactions now. The consequences of not doing so will be exponential growth in January, a substantial increase in hospitalisations and risk to life.”

Professor Philip Nolan, who chairs NPHET’s epidemiological modelling group, said: “We are concerned that Ireland is now in a phase of rapid growth, which if allowed continue, will result in 700 – 1200 cases per day by the second week in January, if not sooner.

“We are particularly concerned about older people and vulnerable adults, who have protected themselves through the second wave, and are now at risk during the festive season.”

Fresh restrictions

NPHET met today to consider the latest situation in the country, and has made recommendations to government.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Six One News, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the government will not be changing the Covid-19 restrictions regime for Christmas but that people should expect new restrictions “before the new year”. 

Dr Holohan, however, would not expand on whatever advice has been given to government and said it was now a matter for government to consider these recommendations and decide what to do next.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said it was vital that people adhere to the basics in terms of social distancing, mask wearing and keeping their contacts to a minimum in the coming days and weeks. 

“People need to listen to these messages tonight. They need to make choices about the next week,” he said, adding that people should consider what actions are discretionary in the next week and choose the right options.

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Professor Nolan added that the case numbers being seen in recent days arise from people who caught the virus in the first week of December. 

“It’s a very clear warning sign, whatever we were doing in the first week of December was too much,” he said. “We need to stop now in order to protect where we’re going to be 7-10 days from now.”

In Northern Ireland, a further 12 people with Covid-19 have died and another 656 new cases of the virus have been notified to the Department of Health. 

It is understood that a six-week lockdown starting on St Stephen’s Day has been agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive.

Measures will include the closing of all non-essential retail as well as close contact services, while the hospitality sector will be confined to takeaway services only.

With reporting from Sean Murray

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