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Coronavirus Ireland: 744 new cases and four further deaths confirmed

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Adhere: Dr Tony Holohan urged public to stay vigilant. Picture: Collins

Adhere: Dr Tony Holohan urged public to stay vigilant. Picture: Collins

Adhere: Dr Tony Holohan urged public to stay vigilant. Picture: Collins

Four more people have died and 744 new cases of Covid-19 have emerged, as Dr Tony Holohan warns of a “deteriorating disease trajectory.”

The chief medical officer said he expects higher numbers to be recorded when testing is ramped up post Christmas.

And he delivered a stark message to the public: “If we do not act now to stop the spread of COVID-19, we will not be able to protect those in our society that are most at risk of serious illness or death.

“Stay home, do not visit friends or family unless you are providing essential care and do not have visitors to your home. Follow the public health advice.”

The worsening public health situation is continuing despite a seemingly unhurried distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar admitted Ireland is slower in rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine but promised "we will catch up".

HSE boss Paul Reid said the roll-out will now begin on Tuesday, a day earlier than planned.

Mr Varadkar said restrictions should not be eased until vulnerable people and healthcare workers are vaccinated and some of the rules will be in place until at least the Summer.

Mr Varadkar was asked why there is a delay in administering the vaccine here during an interview on Newstalk's On the Record with Gavan Reilly show.

The Fine Gael leader said he isn't 100pc sure why the roll-out wasn't due to start until Wednesday.

He added: "I’m told it just takes a couple of days to organise things”.

He said while some people could have been vaccinated in the initial days, "the authorities thought it was better to start on Wednesday and start it properly."

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Mr Varadkar said: "10,000 doses have arrived with roughly 40,000 doses arriving every week from January."

"I think we probably will start a little bit slower than other countries.

"But we will catch up. I don't see it as a race. I think it's important that we do it right."

Mr Varadkar said he expects the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines to be approved next month.

Of the cases notified today: 246 are in Dublin, 131 are in Cork, 51 are in Limerick, 40 are in Wexford, 33 are in Donegal and the remaining 243 cases are spread across 19 other counties.

Dr Holohan said: “We have seen a significant increase in the number of hospitalisations in the last two weeks from less than 190 to 324 today.

“This indicates a deteriorating disease trajectory nationally and is a significant reminder of the severity of this disease.

“There have been further increases across key indicators of COVID-19 right across the country and the growth rate of the epidemic has accelerated in recent days.

“Due to the lower volume of tests being carried out over Christmas Day and yesterday, we believe there are higher levels of disease circulating in the community than today’s reported case numbers reflect.

“We expect, therefore, to see a large increase in cases reported over the coming days.”

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre confirmed there has now been a total of 2,204 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

And there is now a total of 86,129 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

388 of the new cases are men, 354 are women, 64pc are under 45 years of age and the median age is 34 years old.

As of 8am today 324 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 26 are in ICU. 50 additional hospitalisations took place in the past 24 hours.


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