Covid-19: 398 new cases confirmed in the State

Taoiseach says one million people fully vaccinated with 70% target by end of July

Health workers administering Covid-19 vaccinations at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Alan Betson

Health workers administering Covid-19 vaccinations at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Another 398 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the State.

The latest figures were reported by the Department of Health on Thursday evening.

The department also reported that the number of patients with Covid-19 in the State’s hospitals now stands at 70, 23 of whom are in ICU. The number in ICU has fallen by four since Wednesday.

Also on Thursday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government has set a new target of 70 per cent of adults in Ireland being fully vaccinated by the end of July.

Mr Martin also announced that by the end of Thursday, 1 million people in the State will be fully vaccinated.

“The target is all subject to supply, I have to say that strongly. But the aim would be to try and get to 70 per cent,” he said.

He said the decision to cut the interval between the first and second dose of AstraZeneca from 12 weeks to eight will help with that target but that it would also be dependent on the uptake among younger people.

“It is very, very important that people take up the vaccine offer when the get an offer because when all get vaccinated, we protect each other and where Ireland has been fortunate to date is the very high vaccine participation rate,” he told reporters on Thursday.

Speaking earlier on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Martin said that June looked like being a very good month in terms of vaccination targets. “The last two weeks of June is looking good in terms of security of Pfizer BioNtech in particular,” he said.

The Taoiseach said that the AstraZeneca situation was improving and that he had met with the company last week. “They have developed new capacities in Spain and Germany in terms of fill and finish so therefore they are looking better than perhaps they did earlier in the pandemic in terms of the supplying and giving us visibility of that supply over the next couple of weeks.

The Taoiseach said that he hoped that all third level students would be vaccinated by the autumn for the return to campus, he also said that good preparatory work was being done in Brussels with regard to the vaccination of under-18s.

When asked about antigen testing, he said that it had a role to play, but the issue of its effectiveness remained. PCR testing was more robust from a public health point of view, he said.

It comes as St James’s Hospital in Dublin has no Covid patients for the first time since March 2020, according to a consultant at the hospital. “Fantastic news! We’ve just been informed that St James’s, the biggest hospital in the country, has no inpatients with #COVID for the first time since March 2020,” tweeted geriatrician Joe Harbison. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said this was “really great news”.