Another healthcare worker diagnosed with Covid-19 has died, bringing to 21 the number of deaths related to the disease in the group.
Healthcare worker deaths account for 0.3 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths, according to the latest update from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), which does not provide any further detail about the latest death.
The latest Department of Health figures show that the number of people being treated for the disease in hospital fell from 824 to 739 between Tuesday and Wednesday, a decrease of some 10 per cent. The total included 74 patients in intensive care, a decrease of five.
A further 5,605 PCR-confirmed cases were reported on Wednesday, while 4,809 more positive antigen tests were registered through the HSE portal. Another 49 deaths related to Covid-19 were notified in the past week, bringing the State total to 6,136.
Some 84 per cent of deaths related to the disease have been among people with underlying conditions (84 per cent), the HPSC said in its report. The average age of those who have died was 80.
The HPSC said Westmeath, Clare and Kildare have the highest incidence of Covid-19 by county, with the lowest rates in Cork, Limerick and Kerry.
There were 51 new outbreaks in nursing homes last week, down from 57 the previous week, the HPSC said in a separate update. One of the outbreaks involved 50 cases.
The number of outbreaks in schools increased from three to 18 last week, with these resulting in 79 linked cases. There were also four outbreaks in childcare facilities, compared to zero the week before.
Aside from education and childcare, the number of outbreaks in most other categories fell, with hospital clusters down from 33 to 13.
The HPSC said the figures in the latest report should be treated with caution, as the post-Christmas surge in cases led to an inflation of reporting in the second week of January compared to last week.
Meanwhile, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys yesterday announed that jobseekers will soon have to revert to collecting their social welfare payments at post offices as pandemic restrictions are eased. From next month the change will apply to new applicants before being extended to other claimants.
People were given the option early in the pandemic to receive their social welfare payments into their bank account as an exceptional measure to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, nine deaths and a further 4,383 cases of the disease were reported on Wednesday. There were 395 Covid-19 inpatients in the North’s hospitals, 22 of whom were being treated in intensive care.
There was a significant easing of restrictions in Northern Ireland yesterday with the requirement to provide a Covid certificate to enter bars, restaurants and cinemas removed. Nightclubs have also reopened but proof of vaccination is required for access. Social distancing requirement for workplaces have also been lifted.