Covid-19: 1,997 new cases confirmed, pop-up vaccine clinics planned for ‘last mile’

‘Don’t go out and about socialising’ if you have respiratory symptoms, says Holohan

A further 1,997 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed as of midnight on Friday, the Department of health has confirmed.

In a Tweet on Saturday afternoon the department said 324 patients were currently in hospital being treated for the virus and 61 patients were in intensive care.

Earlier on Saturday, the head of the State’s vaccine programme said pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinics are to be rolled out in areas of the country with low vaccine uptake.

Prof Brian MacCraith said plans were in place to set up mobile vaccination hubs to target local areas where uptake of the vaccine is low.


The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) is to provide a report in the coming days, identifying pockets of the country that have lower vaccination rates, such as certain areas of socioeconomic deprivation.

“The strategy for the last mile is very much about that, looking at a granular level at what are the problems,” he told RTÉ Radio’s Brendan O’Connor show.

“In some of those counties that might have slightly lower uptake than others we’re going right in there to local radio and newspapers, naming pharmacies that are offering the vaccine – for example 20 in Donegal will be named in the coming days,” Prof MacCraith said.

“It’s just about trying to make it easier for people that might be slightly hesitant. . . . The issue is to go out there with mobile units and pop-ups, just to make it easy,” he said.

Surveys indicated around 7 per cent of people would be against receiving the vaccine, which the population would have to live with, he said.

There was “absolutely” a vaccine available for anyone who wanted one, with walk-in clinics open over the weekend at mass vaccination centres, he said.

Four out of five people in Ireland over the age of 12 were now fully vaccinated, he said.

Mass vaccination centres had administered more than 3.5 million doses to date, GPs had delivered more than two million doses and pharmacists had provided 250,000 doses.

Although there was now a significant amount of excess vaccine supply, that was preferable to a “shortage” when attempting to complete the rollout, Prof MacCraith said.

The State had to “overcompensate” when ordering vaccines during the planning stages, to ensure enough were on hand to complete the programme, amid uncertainty over supply.

Health officials were also awaiting guidance on the scale of the booster vaccination programme over the autumn and winter, he said.

There would be an announcement from Government shortly, outlining how excess vaccines would be diverted to other countries in the developing world, Prof MacCraith said.

Ireland's Covid-19 vaccine uptake had been "remarkable," and was second only to Malta in the European Union, he said.

Commenting on the reasons for the high uptake, Prof MacCraith said: “I think it’s an educated population, I think people trusted the science, they trusted the public health advice. I think the media, public service media . . . ensured there was good quality information out there”.

There would need to be some form of standing "pandemic support team" in the Health Service Executive (HSE) into the future, as "coronavirus isn't going to go away," he said.

Paul Reid, HSE chief executive, said 92 per cent of adults were now partially vaccinated, meaning the "finishing line of this phase of the vaccination programme is so close".

There were 311 people with Covid-19 in hospitals at 8pm on Friday, with 59 of those in intensive care.

‘Simply too high’

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, said the country was seeing levels of Covid-19 transmission “that are simply too high”.

There were “still a lot of people under the age of 30 who are not yet fully vaccinated,” which he said meant “the chances of you bumping into somebody who has the disease are very high”.

Speaking in a video posted by the Department of Health on Saturday, Dr Holohan appealed for people who were not yet fully vaccinated “to stay away from the kinds of settings in which you are going to interact with other people, whether those are sporting or leisure, or family circumstances”.

“If you’ve got respiratory symptoms you’ve got to do the right thing. What that means is you don’t go out and about socialising, interacting with other people, if you’ve got symptoms,” he said.

Separately on Saturday, a further 1,430 positive cases of Covid-19 and six deaths were reported in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours, the Department of Health said.

A total of 2,438,420 vaccines have been administered in total in the region. – Additional reporting PA

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times