Covid-19: 18 further deaths and 683 new cases reported in the State

Coronavirus positivity in nursing homes is 0.18%, its second lowest level rate

A file image of Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer. Photograph: Collins

A file image of Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer. Photograph: Collins

 

A further 18 people have died from Covid-19, while the Department of Health was notified of another 683 confirmed cases of the virus on Wednesday.

There has been a total of 4,628 Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic. Of the deaths reported on Wednesday, six occurred in March, seven in February and five in January.

There has now been a total of 232,164 confirmed cases of the virus in the Republic.

As of 8am on Wednesday, there were 329 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 76 are in intensive care. There have been 18 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

As of Sunday, 680,015 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in the Republic. Some 495,824 people have received their first dose while 184,191 people have received their second dose.

Of the cases notified on Wednesday, 324 are men while 359 are women. Three quarters are under 45-years-old, while the median age is 32-years-old.

Some 308 cases are in Dublin, while there are 68 in Donegal, 49 in Kildare, 35 in Meath, and 30 in Offaly. The remaining 193 cases are spread across 21 other counties.

Deferred meeting

Meanwhile, a key meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) planned for Thursday has been deferred in advance of decisions on reopening parts of society and the economy from April 5th.

Sources said that the decision was taken so the latest trends in the data could be taken into account in the final analysis being sent to Government ahead of the decisions on reopening.

The Nphet meeting will now take place on Monday. A meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19, which is attended by the leaders of the Coalition parties and certain senior Ministers, will also take place at some stage before Cabinet, before decisions are taken at Cabinet on Tuesday.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
286 59

With average cases stalled at over 500, the precise unwinding of restrictions is said to be finely balanced. A phased reopening of construction and some relaxation of the 5km exercise limit are under consideration, as are easing limits on outdoor activities. However, there is concern over the lack of progress on case numbers, and the potential for a rise in case counts between now and next week.

Meanwhile, the rate of positive Covid-19 tests in nursing homes is at its second lowest level since the pandemic began, chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid said.

Latest figures show a 0.18 per cent positivity rate in nursing homes. The lowest ever rate was 0.13 per cent last July, when there were just 10 positive cases a day in the country.

“Our supplied vaccines are protecting the most vulnerable so far,” Mr Reid said in a tweet on Wednesday.

However, Covid-19 swabbing referrals were up 35 per cent on Monday and 42 per cent on Tuesday compared to the same days last week, he added.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen to 325, with 76 of those in intensive care (ICU).

St James’s Hospital in Dublin has 38 Covid-19 cases, the highest number in the country, followed by Beaumont Hospital (30) and Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown (30).

Mr Reid said while available vaccinations are protecting the most vulnerable and providing hope, “we need to stay alert to the virus in our community”.

Nphet has warned that the epidemiological situation in Ireland “remains particularly fragile” due to a recent stalling of the progress that had been ongoing since the beginning of the year.

In a letter to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly dated March 18th, the deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said disease incidence and test positivity have plateaued “at a high level over recent days”.

Test referrals from GPs have increased over the last week and community test positivity remains “elevated and static”, Dr Glynn said.

“The number of confirmed cases in hospital and ICU remains above the highest levels seen in wave 2. Indicators of population mobility have risen over recent weeks and will continue to be kept under close review,” he added.

Vaccines

In a separate letter to Mr Donnelly dated March 11th, Dr Glynn said it is noted that those aged 70 and over are not due to have all received their first vaccine dose until after mid-April, and their second dose until after mid-May, “highlighting the particular vulnerability of this group over the coming months”.

Meanwhile, immunologist Prof Liam Fanning has said he supports calls for “vax pods” where people who have been fully vaccinated could meet.

The professor of immunovirology at University College Cork told Newstalk Breakfast that there should also be county by county restrictions as the virus was not everywhere.

Cork county had a level of fewer than 5 cases per 100,000 which effectively meant that the virus was being suppressed, he said.

Prof Fanning called for people to be allowed to move about within their own county and if the number of cases increased then restrictions could be reimposed.

A further 24 deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by Nphet on Tuesday. This brought to 4,610 the total number of deaths in the Republic since the pandemic began.

Another 371 confirmed cases of the disease were reported, the lowest daily total in the last week. In Northern Ireland, there were two more deaths and 174 further confirmed cases.