Ireland’s death toll from Covid-19 has risen past 600 after a further 39 people lost their lives to the disease.
The latest daily statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said 610 people have now died, with 493 new cases confirmed, a steep change on the previous day’s figure of 778.
Those new cases are split between 445 from Irish laboratories, and 48 from facilities in Germany.
NPHET said the overall death toll is split male and female by 57% to 43%, with the median age of those who have died now 83. Some 337 of those cases had been hospitalised, with just 46 admitted to intensive care. There have now been 15,251 cases confirmed in the Republic.
Meanwhile, as of midnight last Friday, just over 25% of cases, some 3,788 in all, were healthcare workers.
Community transmission now accounts for 63% of infections in the country overall.
The significant drop in cases may be early signs that the levels of infection are starting to dissipate, particularly after the announcement that Ireland’s reproductive figure for Covid-19 had dropped to below one.
Public health authorities had previously made clear that any figure above one would be unsustainable.
Last week, however, Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said that there is no further need to drive Ireland’s reproductive coefficient any lower, as it had now reached sustainable levels, with the true challenge now being to maintain the low rate of infection whilst simultaneously loosening lockdown restrictions.
It was also confirmed on Friday that Ireland has passed its peak in terms of deaths, with that point occurring 12 days ago, with the daily death toll rather being indicative of fatalities notified to the public health team as of that date, as opposed to when they precisely occurred.
Meanwhile, further incidences of Covid-19 have been reported in nursing homes and residential institutions, two of the cohorts hardest hit by the disease, according to the latest data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
The figures, correct as of midnight last Wednesday, detail an additional six clusters of the virus in nursing homes, and a further three in residential care homes, representing the highest total seen in those sectors in a week. That would suggest that the idea of the illness plateauing in nursing homes is as yet premature.
Separately, six further clusters — a cluster representing two or more cases in the same place — were noted in hospitals, the first movement in such facilities for three days.
There are now 167 cases of confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in the country’s 29 acute hospitals, with 106 ventilators in use, significantly lower than the country’s capacity.
According to the HSE’s daily operations update as of Saturday, there are 132 vacant critical care beds across the country, with more than 2,000 beds available for general care.