Six out of 10 worst Covid-affected areas are in Munster

Six out of 10 worst Covid-affected areas are in Munster

A study has indicated two vaccine doses induce a robust response against the virus which is still detectable and able to recognise variants of concern up to six months later. File picture: AP /Pavel Golovkin

Waterford now has the highest rate of Covid infections in Munster, as the national rate also continues to rise.

It is “disheartening” to see such high case numbers, according to Dr Elizabeth Ryan, lecturer in Immunology at the University of Limerick. However, she said vaccines were limiting the spread of the virus, especially among vulnerable people.

“Mixing [in society] is driving case numbers, but vaccines seem to be limiting spread or large clusters in many situations,” she said.

What the vaccines have done is keep people from getting too seriously sick, unfortunately, they do not prevent spread.” 

Dr Ryan pointed to a study published on Thursday in Science magazine, indicating two vaccine doses induce a robust response against the virus which is still detectable and able to recognise variants of concern up to six months later.

“I would be surprised if this response just drops off after another couple of months,” she said.

People who got their vaccine in January or February [here] are mostly people in high-risk categories and these individuals will be in line for a booster at the moment. I think it would be really prudent for these people to have this third dose.” 

Data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows the downward trend of Covid-cases has reversed. The 14-day incidence rate of infection now stands at 414.6 per 100,000 of population nationally.

In Waterford, 857 cases were identified in the last two weeks, giving a local incidence rate of 737.7. followed by Kerry, where 955 cases were identified, giving a local rate of 646.6 per 100,000.

Limerick saw 981 new cases, resulting in an incidence rate of 503.3, and Cork now has a rate of 376.9, due to 2,046 new cases. Clare has a rate of 385.5 from 458 new cases and Tipperary, with 494 new cases and a rate of 309.6, also remains below the national 14-day infection rate. 

There are six Munster local electoral areas on the Government’s updated list of 10 most affected LEAs nationally. Waterford City South is at the top, with Tramore-Waterford City West in fourth place. The Kanturk LEA in Cork is the third-worst affected, and Ennistymon in Clare is placed eighth. The Listowel LEA in Kerry has the second highest rate, and Tralee LEA is placed seventh.

Meanwhile, the University of Limerick Hospital Group has cancelled “all but the most time-critical outpatient appointments” for Monday at UHL and some elective surgery at UHL and St Johns.

A spokesperson said this was due to an “extraordinarily high level of emergency presentations, and increasing numbers of Covid-positive patients.” Also, on Friday, figures for healthcare workers infected between September 9 and October 10 show they made up 3.8% of cases. This came to 1,417 people, mainly women but just 13 required hospitalisation, according to the HPSC.

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