'Critical time for all of us to hold firm': 23 additional deaths and 1,378 new Covid-19 cases

Dr Tony Holohan said the public must not let down their guard as the disease is placing an unprecedented strain on healthcare services.
'Critical time for all of us to hold firm': 23 additional deaths and 1,378 new Covid-19 cases

Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Chief Medical Officer has said that while we are beginning to make progress in reducing the levels of Covid-19 in the community, it is a critical time for all of us to "hold firm" to public health advice.

His comments come as 23 additional deaths related to Covid-19 have been confirmed this evening.

All 23 of these deaths occurred in January.

The age range of the 23 people who lost their lives to the virus is 61-99 years. The average age is 84 years old.

The death toll in Ireland from Covid-19 now stands at 2,970.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has also been notified of 1,378 new confirmed cases of the virus.

Of today's confirmed cases, 379 are located in Dublin, 145 in Cork, 86 in Wexford, 85 in Galway and 71 in Limerick. The remaining 612 cases are spread across all counties.

As of 2pm this afternoon, there are 1,931 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across the country. Of these, 218 are in ICU.

There have been 44 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan said the public must not let down their guard as the disease is placing an unprecedented strain on healthcare services.

We must not let down our guard against this highly infectious disease and the risk it poses to ourselves and those most medically vulnerable to infection.

"There is a huge volume of disease in the country and the recent surge in cases continues to place an unprecedented strain on ICUs, hospitals and other frontline healthcare services."

Earlier today, CEO of the HSE Paul Reid said hospitals are "battling to hold the levels of care that we value and to save lives".

"It's not an Emergency Department crisis now but it's probably more critical than that."

Dr Holohan said people must drive down social contacts and congregation in all settings.

He highlighted the need for people who can work from home to do so and appealed to employers to facilitate working from home as much as possible.

"Everyone who can, should work from home where possible. For those of us who cannot work from home, it is essential to follow the public health advice in the workplace, such as the wearing of face coverings when moving around communal areas.

We urge all employers to facilitate home working as much as possible and to ensure strict adherence to public health measures in the workplace.

Of today's 1,378 confirmed cases, 58% are under the age of 45 while the average age is 39 years old.

The country's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has dropped further to 840.7 from 955.5 yesterday.

There are now five counties with a 14-day incidence rate over 1,000 compared to eight on Saturday.

The five counties are: Monaghan (1,661), Mayo (1,322), Louth (1,259), Carlow (1,103) and Wexford (1,056).

The seven-day incidence currently stands at 312 while the five-day moving average is 2,148.

Mandatory hotel quarantining 

The Government are examining how hotel quarantine for travellers entering the state would work.

Nphet advised the Government that mandatory quarantine for people entering the republic was necessary to help stem the spread of Covid-19, eight months ago.

There have been growing calls for such restrictions from the public and opposition politicians in recent weeks, while flights from places like Sofia and Gran Canaria continue to arrive in Dublin.

The only requirement is that passengers present a negative PCR test from the previous 72 hours, which Nphet warned will miss 40% of cases.

Minister of State with responsibility for International Travel, Hildegarde Naughton says the Government are now assessing how the practice would work.

Vaccinations 

Members of the vaccination programme team at St Joseph's Nursing Home, Killorglin, Co Kerry: Sharon Williams, Dr Caitriona Colohan, Carolann Fogarty, Dr Wiebke McGuire, Kay O'Connor, Gerardina Harnett, Jackie Linnane, Catherine O'Sullivan, and Nora Lamb. Picture: Domnick Walsh

Members of the vaccination programme team at St Joseph's Nursing Home, Killorglin, Co Kerry: Sharon Williams, Dr Caitriona Colohan, Carolann Fogarty, Dr Wiebke McGuire, Kay O'Connor, Gerardina Harnett, Jackie Linnane, Catherine O'Sullivan, and Nora Lamb. Picture: Domnick Walsh

It is too early to say if 700,000 people can still be vaccinated here by the end of March, according to the European Affairs Minister.

EU officials are meeting tomorrow to discuss AstraZeneca's announcement that early deliveries of its vaccine will be 60% lower than expected.

The President of the European Council says drug companies will be made to respect vaccine contracts through legal means if necessary.

Minister for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, says Ireland's rollout targets will depend on the EU's response.

"We have, as part of the European Union, significant purchasing power on this and that has to be used and I'm making that very, very clear.

We have to do absolutely everything we can to get this out. First of all, to get it approved but we have to get it manufactured and out.

"I think that urgency is undoubtedly across Europe because the Pfizer vaccine is excellent but it has really serious storage issues, the Morderna vaccine similarly.

"The AstraZeneca is totally different."

Meanwhile, the HSE has said more than 10,000 doses of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine have been administered in nursing homes and community hospitals across Cork and Kerry.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare vaccinators completed the first round of the roll-out of the Pfzier BioNtech vaccine to residents and staff at more than 90 nursing homes and community hospitals.

The roll-out will now move to residents aged over 65 in other long-term residential facilities, including disability and mental health facilities, and the HSE said supply of the vaccine was the only limiting factor.

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