School reopenings 'vital,' says Dr Glynn and urges public compliance as 574 cases confirmed

An additional 574 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed.
School reopenings 'vital,' says Dr Glynn and urges public compliance as 574 cases confirmed

People outdoors in COrk CIty during Level 5 of Ireland's latest lockdwon. Picture: Larry Cummins

A further 56 Covid-related deaths have been reported this evening as the country faces into six more weeks of lockdown.

Of the 56 deaths confirmed today, 31 occurred in February, 13 in January and three were in December or earlier. A further nine are currently under investigation.

The youngest person to lose their life to the virus was 16 years old. The oldest person was 97.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has also reported an additional 574 confirmed cases of the virus.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, said that there has been good progress but this needs to be sustained.

Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

"It is vital that we get our children back to school over the coming weeks.

"A key part of making this a success will be our continued collective buy-in to the public health measures that are tried and tested. Stay at home, work from home where possible. 

"Given the increased transmissibility of the virus now, we must continue to limit our social contacts and do all we can to starve this disease of opportunities to spread."

Of the cases reported today, almost 70% are under the age of 45, the average age is 34 years old.

The largest number of cases are found in Dublin where there are 175 while there are 57 in Limerick, 43 in Kildare, 37 in Galway and 35 in Meath. The remaining 227 cases are spread across 18 other counties.

As of 8am this morning, there are 652 Covid-19 patients in hospitals around the country. Of these, 137 are in ICU. There have been 35 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

According to the latest vaccine data, there have been 353,971 doses of the vaccine given - 222,073 people have received their first dose, 131,898 have received their second.

80% of adults expected to receive at least one vaccine dose by June

The Government expects to have the capacity to deliver half a million vaccinations a week later this year.

They remain confident over 80% of the adult population will have received at least one covid vaccine by June.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says most adults will have received at least one dose by the end of June.

"If those advanced purchases come through then the figures that have been given out by me previously, by the Taoiseach yesterday, they are accurate."

People with certain illnesses have been moved up the list after the prioritisation was changed.

However, family carers still don’t have a defined place on the list.

"There is good news for them in that those they are caring for have been prioritised for vaccination so that has to be our first target," said Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

NIAC is still examining the issue, but given there is around 500,000 family carers, there is reluctance to revise the list on that sort of scale again.

There is positive news today on the vaccine front as Johnson and Johnson's Covid vaccine has moved a step closer to approval in the US.

The Food and Drug Administration in America released data that supports its authorisation for emergency use.

A further meeting will be held on Friday to evaluate the one-shot jab.

The European Medicines Agency is due to give its decision on the vaccine by mid-March.

Dáil debate hotel quarantining 

The Dáil is debating new laws introducing mandatory hotel quarantine for people coming from high-risk countries.

It is in a bid to reduce the possibility of new variants of Covid-19 coming into Ireland.

A number of opposition parties have submitted amendments to expand the laws to all people arriving into Ireland with limited exceptions.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says the laws are a significant step to take.

"The proposals in the bill may be regarded by some as harsh and may be regarded by others as insufficient.

"while the UK has introduced mandatory hotel quarantining, very few countries in Europe have introduced such a regime."

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach clashed with the Labour leader in the Dáil over the amount of Brazilian people arriving into the country.

Alan Kelly said it was laughable to ask people to stay within their five kilometres while 2,000 Brazilians have come into the country over a number of weeks this year.

Micheál Martin rejected the criticism of his government's approach to mandatory quarantine for people.

"I think it is a bit populist and wrong the way you spoke about 2,000 Brazilians coming into the country," said Mr Martin.

"Many of those are could be Irish residents. I don't know the exact 2,000 but there is a Brazilian community in Ireland."

Two further deaths and 260 new Covid cases in NI 

Two additional Covid-19 related deaths have been reported in the North.

A further 260 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours.

There are currently 356 patients being treated for the disease in hospitals, with 44 in ICU.

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