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Limerick, Clare and Louth top Covid table as new variants now account for 70pc of cases


Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

Limerick, Clare, Louth, Galway, Laois and Kilkenny have jumped to the top of the table for the highest incidence rate of Covid-19. They are followed by Donegal, Kildare, Wicklow, Tipperary, Dublin, Carlow and Meath.

The latest county-by-county rankings come as it was con­firmed the BA.4 and BA.5 new variants of concern, along with BA2.12.1, now account for seven in 10 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

These offshoots of Omicron are easier to catch, and people who caught the virus during the big surge earlier this year are among those getting infected again.

The counties with the lowest incidence – based on PCR tests – are Monaghan, Leitrim, Cavan, Westmeath, Sligo and Mayo, according to the latest report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

When it comes to age groups, the highest percentage of Covid-positive cases after a PCR test are aged 35 to 44, followed by 45- to 54-year-olds and people aged 25 to 34.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said there has been a sharp rise in Covid cases and hospitalisations of people with the virus in recent weeks.

The seven-day positivity rate for people going for PCR tests has risen to 29pc, while the numbers registering with the HSE as positive after a home antigen test rose to 1,960 on Wednesday.

The number in hospital with Covid rose to 496 yesterday, with more than half there due to complications of the virus and the rest with another illness but positive for the virus.

Of these, the number seriously ill in intensive care remained steady at 25, although more are on ventilators.

The number of Covid-19 outbreaks in hospital last week rose to 15, three times the number recorded the previous week.

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One of the hospital outbreaks led to 17 people being infected.

There were 12 new outbreaks in nursing homes, ranging from two to 13 cases – a drop of one outbreak on the previous week.

The HSE said yesterday it is scaling down the number of Covid-19 vaccination centres as it prepares for the roll-out of a winter booster jab. From the end of this month, the number of vaccination centres will be reduced to 15, although many pharmacists will continue to offer the vaccines.

There is concern at the uptake of second booster shots for the over-65s and people who are immunocompromised, despite the latest Covid-19 summer wave pushing up hospitalisations.

Recent HSE figures show around 397,000 of an eligible 780,000 people in these at-risk groups had yet to avail of a second booster.

More than 1.2 million have so far not taken up the offer of a first booster shot.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee has yet to set out its recommendations for a winter booster shot, but the jab is likely to be offered to groups such as healthcare workers in the wider population.

However, there is expected to be a four-month gap laid down between booster shots.

It means the longer people leave it to get their second booster, the further into winter they might have to wait to get the next shot.

Damien McCallion, the HSE’s national lead for test, trace and vaccinations, said: “The HSE will shortly move to the next stage of its Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“While some vaccination centres around the country have closed or will shortly close, we are retaining 15 vaccination centres nationally to ensure there is access to vaccination over the summer for anyone who requires it.

“The continuing involvement of many pharmacies in the Covid-19 vaccination programme will ensure people can still easily access it, and the public can check hse.ie to find a participating pharmacy nearest to them.

“For the remainder of June, we encourage anyone who has yet to get their Covid-19 vaccine to book an appointment online at hse.ie or ring HSE Live to book an appointment in an HSE vaccination centre. Participating GPs and pharmacists will also continue to provide vaccination.”

“While we will shortly be moving into the next stage of our vaccination programme, many options remain for people to get their vaccine, and I urge anyone who has yet to get their vaccine or their booster to book an appointment.”

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