Coronavirus: Two further deaths and 624 cases reported in State

Nphet member Dr Mary Horgan urges public to ‘think before they travel’ over Easter

Gardaí have said high-visibility patrols at public amenities, parks and beauty spots will continue across the country this weekend. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Gardaí have said high-visibility patrols at public amenities, parks and beauty spots will continue across the country this weekend. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A further 624 Covid-19 cases and an additional two coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the State.

This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic to 4,653.

Of the 624 confirmed cases reported on Saturday, 309 are men and 313 are women.

Three-quarters of those who tested positive were younger than 45 years of age, with the median age being 32.

Around half of the cases (308) were located in Dublin, followed by 41 in Kildare, 38 in Donegal, 31 in Meath and 29 in Offaly. The remaining 177 cases were spread across 18 other counties.

There are 304 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals, with 64 in intensive care, as of 8am on Saturday. Twenty-one Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in the past 24 hours.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted on Saturday morning: “Thankfully the numbers of #COVID19 patients in hospital and ICU continue to come down, albeit slower than we would all like. Dublin hospitals remain highest. We all want this trend to continue down and avoid the tide turning against us again.”

Offaly continues to have the highest incidence rate in the country, at 461.8 cases per 100,000 people. The national incidence rate over the last 14 days is 159.9.

Earlier, infectious disease specialist Prof Mary Horgan called on the public not to travel during Easter weekend due to the risk of asymptomatic people spreading Covid-19.

Prof Horgan, who is a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team and president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, said “the last thing we want is people moving around” and bringing infections to areas which are free of them at present.

She described the aftermath of Christmas as being “fairly horrific” in Cork University Hospital (CUH) where she works as a consultant.

She recalled that one man had travelled home to see his family at Christmas and infected his mother, his grandparents and his grand-aunt all of whom ended up in hospital.

Speaking on the Brendan O’Connor Show on RTÉ Radio 1, Prof Horgan asked people to “think before they travel” as up to half of the people with the UK variant of the disease are asymptomatic.

“If people could just hang on, there will be more and more vaccines. The big thing is to try and get that jab in your arm as quickly as possible so we can protect people.”

Gardaí have said high-visibility patrols at public amenities, parks and beauty spots will continue across the country this weekend.

In a statement ahead of the Easter holidays, gardaí asked people to plan activities to ensure exercise is taken within the 5km limit for recreation.

The force warned people that illegal parking at popular amenities can result in cars being towed and impounded, and all adults in a car found to be undertaking a non-essential journey may be liable for a €100 fine each.

Prof Horgan said the public needed to think about outdoor living while the days are getting longer and the weather warmer.

“Communities locally should be thinking about how to live outdoors. Now is the time to start building infrastructures outdoors,” she said.

“It aligns with our climate green agenda also perhaps by closing the streets in our towns, incentivising people and putting the onus on businesses in communities to see how they can adapt. Let’s be creative. That’s what we Irish are good at.”

A Department of Health statement said a total of 732,678 vaccine doses had been administered as of March 24th, with 529,984 first doses, and 202,694 people fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca’s president in Ireland has said the State will receive a “large volume” of vaccines in the coming weeks, after weeks of criticism over the impact of its unreliable deliveries on the State’s vaccination rollout.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Dan Wygal declined to apologise for the massive shortfall in AstraZeneca shipments to Ireland, but said he felt “highly accountable” to do all he could to improve the situation.

Ireland was estimated to receive 827,000 AstraZeneca doses in the first quarter based on advance purchase agreements, but just 228,000 arrived.

Mr Wygal, who took up the job three weeks ago, said “in the coming weeks we’ll have some of the largest shipments yet sent into Ireland” as the company is overcoming some manufacturing problems it has encountered.

A shipment of more than 100,000 doses, the largest so far, is expected to arrive next week, though he declined to quote “absolute numbers” for the weeks ahead.

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