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One further death and 687 new cases confirmed as no new Covid-related ICU admissions for first time since St. Stephen's Day


Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

There has been one further death due to Covid-19 and 687 new cases of the virus confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) this evening.

This takes the total number of deaths in Ireland from the virus to 4,319, while the current case count has risen to 220,273.

The death reported today occurred in January.

285,780 have received their first Covid-19 vaccine as of last Friday according to the latest HSE data, with 140,290 people now fully vaccinated.

The positivity rate continues to fall with it measuring at 4.3pc for the last seven days.

There have been 240 new cases confirmed in Dublin, 49 in Limerick, 44 in Offaly, 40 in Galway, 36 in Louth and the remaining 278 cases are spread across 19 other counties. County Longford reported no new cases today.

Yesterday was the first day that there were no new admissions to ICU due to Covid-19 for the first time since St Stephen's Day.

As of 8am today, 540 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 120 are in ICU. There were 14 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Of the cases notified today; 352 are men and 334 are female; 71pc are under 45 years of age and the median age is 30 years old.

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The national 14-day incidence rate has fallen to 209 cases per 100,000, Dr Ronan Glynn confirmed.

Dr Glynn also said yesterday was the first day that there were no new admissions to ICU due to Covid-19 for the first time since St Stephen's Day.

There were 691 deaths due to Covid-19 in February, compared to 1,309 deaths in January, almost a 50pc reduction.

Case numbers are declining but "slowly" Professor Philip Nolan said, adding that the number of admissions to hospitalisations also appear to be declining. There were over 100 admissions per day for several days in mid-January, this has fallen to 14 admissions today, Prof Nolan said.

"This is a sign that we are coming to the end of this period of the pandemic," Prof Nolan said.

As children from junior infants to second class returned to school, Prof Nolan said incidence among children under 12 remains below the national average.

Professor Pete Lunn, Head of the Behavioural Research Unit, ESRI said that while people are finding it tough going, the large majority (79pc) believe that preventing the spread of Covid-19 is more important than the burden of restrictions. Just 10pc disagreed with this.

Professor Lunn said that while people are feeling "frustrated, bored and tired" of restrictions, it does not mean that they are willing to give up on them.

Data compiled by the ESRI shows that less than half the population (48pc) met anyone outside their household in the last 48 hours. Prof Lunn said that the most socially active people - those meeting three to six people over 48 hours - still think they are meeting fewer people than on average.

“There is a systematic misperception that most people believe that others are enjoying more of a social life than they are. Those who are in fact most socially active do not realise this. The finding is important, and we need to try to correct this misperception. When people appreciate effort being made by others, they typically become more likely to follow," Prof Lunn said.

Speaking about large crowds gathering at protests at the weekend, Dr Glynn said that "it can't be condoned, it should not have happened and should not happen again. The silent majority in this country are fed up and annoyed. They do not want this pandemic to be going on a day longer than it has to, but they're sticking with it.

"We don't see what they're doing as they are doing it quietly in their own homes and I think that's the message need to remember when they see the actions of a very small minority".

"I think there were people in that crowd that are genuinely frustrated, they come from a broad church and have a variety of issues.. but I'd ask them to reflect on what the population and the country has done in the last year. Be proud of what the country has done rather than focusing on the negatives or a small minority," Dr Glynn said.

Nphet's lower estimation of cases for the end of February was 200-400 daily cases and while Dr Glynn acknowledged that they would prefer if numbers were much lower, "the key point is that we are still making progress".

Despite having far more prevalence of the UK variant compared to other EU countries, Dr Glynn said Ireland has made "significant progress" compared to those other countries.

Prof Nolan said that child-to-child and child-to-adult transmission is "quite rare" and that it is just as likely that this would occur at home as in school.

Dr Glynn said he thinks that there will be some element of public health measures still in place by the end of the year but said he hopes that they are within an environment which is "far closer to what we understood as normal in 2019".

"What that exactly looks like, no one can say right now," Dr Glynn said.

He said encouragement should be taken from the fact Ireland has one of the most receptive populations to receiving a vaccine in Ireland.

Professor Philip Nolan said that while the risk of dying from Covid-19 for those under 55 is "almost negligibly low" he said the risk of becoming severely ill and having a long recovery from the virus is "quite high". This is why we must be "very careful" with balancing reopening society versus rolling out the vaccination programme.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly met with his European counterparts today to discuss the threat posed by emerging variants of Covid-19 and the streamlining of authorisation processes for vaccines.

Minister Donnelly said, “We need to act now to combat the threat posed by emerging and future variants of Covid-19. It is vital to protect and maintain the effectiveness of existing and newly developed vaccines.

Minister Donnelly also reiterated Ireland’s support for the EU’s contribution to COVAX and underlined the EU’s leadership role regarding equitable global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines: “This is the ethical thing to do and is in everyone’s interest, as no one will be safe until everyone is safe.”

More to follow..

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