Coronavirus: 319 further cases reported in the State

Number of Covid cases in Irish hospitals at nine month low

A further 319 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the State.

The Department of Health on Friday said there were 60 Covid-19 patients in hospital with 23 in ICU.

Earlier, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said 11 hospitals in the State now had no Covid-19 patients as the number of seriously ill cases continues to decline.

Along with St James's in Dublin, Naas, Tullamore, Sligo, Galway, Kilkenny, Waterford and Mercy hospitals had zero virus patients on Friday morning.

Welcoming the "further good news" in the eight adult hospitals, Mr Reid said the three Dublin children hospitals – Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght, also have no Covid-19 patients.

On Thursday, the HSE said the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals had fallen to 59, the lowest figure in nine months. Last January, at the peak of the third wave of the pandemic, more than 2,000 people were hospitalised with coronavirus.

Numbers in ICU are also at their lowest level this year, at 23. There have been nine admissions over the past fortnight, according to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.

The disease situation continues to improve, according to Prof Nolan, writing on social media. Case numbers are declining, including in Dublin.

Prof Nolan said the incidence of the disease in Limerick was "very high", but public health interventions appeared to be bringing the situation under control.

Cases among over-65s are now falling below 10 per 100,000 due to vaccination, as they did some weeks ago for older age groups, he said. There is also the beginning of a “vaccine effect” among those aged between 55 and 64 years.

“We can look forward to seeing vaccination suppress infection across adult age groups from 65 down over the next eight weeks; in the meantime we can keep a clamp on infection levels by careful adherence to basic measures, as we enjoy the progressive reopening.”

However, case numbers will not fall as the bulk are among younger people.

“We need to minimise transmission (and delay any variants) as vaccination offers increasing protection through June and July. We can do more and more over the coming weeks, but let’s be careful out there.”

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times