The number of local areas deemed Covid-free has fallen from 20 to 18 in the past week following confirmation of a small number of cases in pockets of the country.
New data on Covid-19 infection rates in 166 local electoral areas (LEAs) shows that seven areas, including two in Cork, have fallen off the list of almost virus-free areas this week.
The latest data for Monday, April 12, shows that Tullamore in Offaly continues to have the highest infection rate nationally at 408.1 cases per 100,000 population, although it has seen a significant fall from 672.2 cases per 100,0000 population in the previous week.
Nationally, the 14-day infection rate stood at 131.7 cases per 100,000 population on Monday, having fallen from 157.1 cases per 100,000 population over the past week.
The figures reflect the continued downward trend in the spread of Covid-19, which government and health officials this week said offered hope for a further relaxation of public health restrictions in the coming weeks.
The figures, however, also show how quickly the Covid-19 picture can change, showing that the number of areas reporting negligible infection rates has fallen from 20 to 18 over the past week.
The LEA data shows that seven areas lost their virus-free status — having fewer than five new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the previous two weeks — but that five areas gained this status in the past week.
The Bandon-Kinsale and Skibbereen areas in Cork, Castleisland in Kerry, the Tramore and Waterford city area, Callan-Thomastown in Kilkenny, Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim and the Drumcliff area of Sligo all saw a small number of new infections in the past fortnight and were no longer deemed virus-free.
New areas considered virus-free include Ennistymon in Clare, Newport in Tipperary, Granard in Longford, Connemara South in Galway and Manorhamilton in Leitrim.
Kanturk and Bantry in Cork, Listowel and Kenmare in Kerry and Dungarvan, Portlaw-Kilmacthomas and Lismore in Waterford also feature among the 10 virus-free areas in Munster.
While infection rates are falling generally, the latest figures show that they are rising in some parts of the country.
Infection rates have risen in the Ongar, Ballymun-Finglas, and Donaghmede areas of Dublin and also in Newbridge and Kildare town in Co Kildare, all of which feature in the top 10 Covid hotspots nationally.
In Munster, just three local areas had infection rates that were above the national average, while one pocket of Limerick has seen a rise in Covid-19 rates.
The Roscrea-Templemore area of Tipperary continues to have the highest infection rate in Munster at 156.7 cases per 100,000 population, although the rate has almost halved since the previous week (295.3 cases per 100,000 population).
Above-average Covid-19 rates were also evident in the Nenagh area of Tipperary (154.4 cases per 100,000 population) and in the south central part of Cork City (134.5 cases per 100,000 population), although rates are continuing to fall.
The northern part of Limerick city, however, has seen a rise in infections, from 89.3 cases per 100,000 population to 103.7 cases per 100,000 population following confirmation of 36 cases in the past two weeks.
Earlier, the National Public Health Emergency Team confirmed that there has been 11 further deaths and 420 additional Covid-19 cases.
Of the deaths reported today, three occurred in April, 1 occurred in March, two in February and five occurred in January or earlier.