'We are beginning to flatten the curve': CMO praises progress made in recent weeks

The Chief Medical Officer has credited the solidarity shown by families and communities in recent weeks with the progress made in trying to flatten the curve of infection.
'We are beginning to flatten the curve': CMO praises progress made in recent weeks

Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan has said that we are beginning to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infection.

It has been confirmed this evening that there have been 77 additional deaths related to Covid-19.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has also confirmed 1,910 confirmed cases of the virus.

Today marks the first time since New Year's Day, the number of new infections has dropped below 2,000.

Of the 77 deaths confirmed today, 76 occurred in January while one occurred in December.

The average age of those who died is 84 and the age range is 43-98 years.

There has been a total of 2,947 Covid-related deaths in Ireland since the pandemic began.

Of today's cases, 710 are located in Dublin, 150 in Cork, 103 in Meath, 102 in Limerick, 86 in Louth and the remaining 759 cases are spread across all other counties.

As of this afternoon, there are 1,892 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the country. Of these, 217 are in ICU.

There have been 59 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The Chief Medical Officer has credited the solidarity shown by families and communities in recent weeks with the progress made in trying to flatten the curve of infection.

"Each individual effort to follow the public health advice is making an impact, but we can only continue this positive trend and drive down incidence in the community by continuing to stay at home and avoid meeting or mixing with others in our social circle, including for any close family gatherings, such as birthdays or funerals, as these can be ‘super-spreader’ events.

We know it is possible to have Covid-19 without displaying symptoms, so we all need to behave as though we are infectious and minimise our close contacts with others.

"If you suspect that you might be ill, isolate away from others in your household, let your close contacts know and come forward for testing as soon as possible."

Of the 1,910 cases confirmed today, 57% are under the age of 45 while the average age is 40 years old.

The country's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has also dropped from 1,017 yesterday to 955.5 today.

Eight counties currently have a 14-day incidence rate above 1,000 - Monaghan (1,787), Louth (1,417), Mayo (1,362), Carlow (1,294), Wexford (1,276), Waterford (1,188), Limerick (1,167) and Dublin (1,061).

The national seven-day incidence currently stands at 344.9 while the five-day moving average is 2,273.

Restrictions 

The Taoiseach has indicated that public health restrictions could stretch out to the summer due to concerns over new variants of Covid-19.

He also said the reopening of schools may have to be phased in, with special schools the first to allow children back in.

In a lengthy and sobering interview on RTÉ radio, Micheál Martin also said he had spoken last night with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the new UK variant and the indications that it may lead to a 30% increase in mortality compared to the strain of the coronavirus that first hit this country 10 months ago.

The Taoiseach also said any idea of a two-island approach to quarantine was at an "embryonic" stage and said he did not feel an all-island approach was "practical or doable".

Mr Martin also reflected on the spiralling number of positive Covid-19 cases since Christmas and admitted that lessons needed to be learned, while also saying that the decision to ease restrictions ahead of the festive period had been based on multiple factors and without a full sense of the extent or potential dangers of new variants of the virus.

The overall sense from the Taoiseach was of caution, even as vaccine rollout takes place around Europe and Ireland, hampered by delivery target issues over the AstraZeneca vaccine.

AstraZeneca delay 

The Taoiseach says AstraZeneca's announcement it is cutting back on its vaccine deliveries is a "worrying setback".

Mr Martin said it may result in vaccinations for over-70s being delayed.

The company says problems at a manufacturing site mean deliveries to the EU are being scaled back by 60%.

It is reported the bloc will now get 49 million less doses than planned by the end of March.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin says Ireland's vaccine rollout will likely be impacted.

"I don't believe the Commission is happy about this. There are contracted arrangements between AstraZeneca and the Commission, the Commission will want to see them fulfilled.

"So, there is a degree of annoyance across the Commission member states in relation to this news that came in yesterday because it does represent a scaling back and a setback in terms of the delivery of that particular vaccine."

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