Coronavirus in Ireland: 269 new cases and 18 further deaths reported by Nphet

Non-essential retail, gyms, hairdressers open their doors for first time in six weeks

 Gardai mingle with shoppers on Grafton Street as non-essential retail re-opened after the six-week lockdown. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

Gardai mingle with shoppers on Grafton Street as non-essential retail re-opened after the six-week lockdown. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

 

There were 269 new cases and 18 further Covid-19 deaths reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Tuesday. Of these deaths, one was in October, 15 were in November and two are under investigation.

This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 2,069 and total number of confirmed cases to 72,798.

Of the cases notified today half are men and half are women with 65 per cent aged under 45. There were 73 new cases in Dublin, 20 in Kilkenny, 20 in Limerick, 19 in Louth, 19 in Tipperary and the remaining 118 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

There have been 14 additional Covid-19 hospitalisations in the past 24 hours. As of 2pm today, 224 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 31 are in ICU. .

Chief medical officer Dr.

Tony Holohan said the “ hard work and sacrifices that have been made by people over the last 6 weeks to suppress Covid-19 means that we are now in a position to reopen non-essential retail and to travel within our counties”.

“It is up to every person, individually, to remain vigilant to the spread of this disease, to assess the risk that is involved in any social activity. We need to keep the public health advice at the centre of our minds and do not have visitors to our homes, outside of any necessary visitors in a support bubble, until the 18th of December.

“Each one of us has a role in shaping the national picture on COVID-19 in the coming weeks. It is vital that you keep hand washing, wear face coverings and keep a 2m distance from each other, to protect public health, to protect vital public services and to give us the best chance to continue to minimise the spread of the disease.”

Reopening

The State’s second lockdown came to an end today as non-essential retail outlets, churches, gyms, hairdressers, libraries, cinemas and other businesses opened their doors for the first time in six weeks.

There a “fresh buzz” around many town and city centres across the State with “manageable” queues of shoppers forming outside some retailers.

Restaurants can reopen for indoor dining on Friday while household visits and intercounty travel will not be permitted until December 18th for the Christmas period.

The Taoiseach has said he does not anticipate new Covid-19 restrictions before Christmas and has described the 400 daily cases figure that Nphet has set as a threshold for action as “very arbitrary.”

Nphet said in a letter to the Government last week that it would be possible to suppress the spread of the virus with a three-week intervention only if it begins as cases approach 400 a day. The five-day average of new cases stood at 277 on Monday.

Micheál Martin said the Government was not just watching the figures on new cases but also the level of hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths in deciding on imposing any restrictions. He said the State was the best performing in Europe on the seven-day average of new cases.

“We want to stay in that position, so we won’t be slow to react, but we don’t anticipate having to do it before Christmas,” the Taoiseach told the Irish Times in an interview on Monday.

Mr Martin said the expectation was that cases would continue to fall this week due to the lag from remaining restrictions.

He said an increase in cases after the Government permitted household visits for Christmas would depend on people’s behaviour.

“It’s now for all of us individually and collectively in our behaviour to manage this virus and to get the virus down and that’s particularly true from the 18th onwards,” he said.

The Government was “more comfortable” about reopening museums, libraries or galleries without this leading to a spread of the virus and this would improve quality of life over Christmas, he said.

“There are limits to which a government can lock people up for a prolonged period of time, to be crude about it, and we have to get the balance right. This is about balance,” he said.

Separately the number of coronavirus deaths in Northern Ireland has passed the 1,000 mark, according to the latest figures from the North’s Department of Health.