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Coronavirus: 13 deaths and 970 new cases confirmed in Ireland

NPHET announced the figures after the Health Minister said earlier today that cases would be over 900.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

Updated Dec 22nd 2020, 5:49 PM

A FURTHER 970 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland, the National Public Health Emergency Team has said this evening.

In a statement, it said that a further 13 people with Covid-19 have died.

There have now been 2,171 deaths in Ireland linked with Covid-19, along with 81,228* cases of the virus.

The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of the population is now at 138.2 nationally. Donegal has the highest incidence rate at 290.8; Louth has the second highest at 273; and Wexford the third-highest at 237.8.

As of 2pm today, 238 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 28 are in ICU. There have been 23 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Of the cases notified today:

  • 470 are men, and 494 are women
  • 64% are under 45 years of age
  • The median age is 37 years old
  • 348 in Dublin, 60 in Limerick, 59 in Cork, 59 in Wexford, 55 in Louth and the remaining 389 cases are spread across 20 other counties. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “The current trajectory of the disease in the community is of grave concern.

 In the last seven days to midnight Monday, we have reported 4,478 cases, an increase of more than 110% over the preceding week.

“In the last 5 days, we have seen extraordinary growth in the incidence of the virus across the country, significantly increasing the level of risk associated with the kind of inter-generational mixing that is normally experienced over the Christmas holidays.

“To protect ourselves, our families and our vulnerable loved ones in particular, further economic and social restrictions will begin to be introduced from Christmas Eve. It is up to each one of us to rethink our plans for this Christmas period, especially when it comes to visiting older or more medically vulnerable family members and friends.

“With the authorisation of the first Covid-19 vaccine by the European Commission yesterday, our national vaccine programme can begin in the very near future and this gives us cause for hope.

However, widespread vaccination of the population will take time, so we need to continue to adhere to the public health advice on hand washing, keeping 2m distance, wearing face coverings where appropriate, covering our coughs and reducing our social contacts for the duration of the Level 5 restrictions.

“By working together we can reduce the spread of Covid-19 and safeguard our schools and our hospitals,” he said.

*Validation of data at the HPSC has resulted in the denotification of nine cases.

‘Hard evidence’ of the variant being more virulent

Earlier today, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that there would be over 900 new Covid-19 cases announced today.

The Minister said that a week ago, there were 329 new cases announced.

Donnelly told RTÉ Radio’s News at One that cases have been growing even quicker than NPHET’s worst predictions, and the cases for today prove that.

Yesterday there were 727 new cases confirmed. On Sunday there were 764 cases, on Saturday there were 527 cases, Friday there were 582 new cases, on Thursday there were 484 cases, and on Wednesday there were 431.

“Inevitably some of it is due to socialisation – we know that,” Donnelly said.

He said that the cases were increasing at such a rate that the question has been asked if “some of this being driven by the variant in the UK”. 

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According to what is already known about the new variant, it appears to be significantly more contagious than other variants of SARS-CoV-2. 

Despite this, Irish public health officials have emphasised that there is not yet any “hard evidence” that the new Covid-19 strain circulating in the UK is more infectious than other strains.

Donnelly said that we would know “in a few days” if the new variant is in Ireland, but that the Government is working on the assumption that the variant is already here.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the positivity rate – or the number of tests coming back positive – was around 2.4% on 24 November.He said that it stayed at that rate up until the past few days, and is now at 4.6%.

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