Covid-19: 539 new cases, 14 further deaths reported, more than half a million vaccine doses given

‘Vaccines are having a significant impact on mortality and serious illness,’ says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre) at the Meath Primary Care Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal

Taoiseach Micheál Martin (centre) at the Meath Primary Care Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Julien Behal

 

There were 539 new cases of Covid-19 and 14 further deaths reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Saturday.

A total of 4,419 have died as result of Covid-19 in the Sate since the pandemic began, while the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 222,699.

The age range of those who died was 59-94 years while the median age was 80 years.

Some 245 of the cases were in Dublin with 42 in Meath, 29 in Kildare, 26 in Limerick, 24 in Cork and the remaining 173 cases are spread across 19 other counties. As of 8am on Saturday, 414 people were in hospital with Covid-19, of which 101 patients were being treated in ICU. Twenty-two people were hospitalised in the last 24 hours.

The 14-day incidence rate of the virus for the nation now stands at 175.6 per 100,000 with 8,306 new cases reported in the last two weeks.

Validation of data at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has resulted in the denotification of nine previously confirmed cases. The above number of total cases reflects this.

Saturday’s figures come as the number of vaccines administered in the State has passed half a million, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

“Just been informed by the HSE that we have passed the half a million mark of #CovidVaccine doses administered,” Mr Martin tweeted on Saturday.

“Good news. The vaccines are having a significant impact on mortality and serious illness. The number of Covid patients in hospitals and ICU is reducing all the time,” he said.

Also on Saturday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid described the fall in hospital numbers as “a great sign”.

“Further protections will happen throughout this weekend as GPs continue to vaccinate more over 80+ year olds,” Mr Reid tweeted on Saturday

The official vaccine figures, which are a few days behind, show that 14,008 more vaccine doses were given since totals released yesterday. The figures of 328,598 first doses, 146,047 second doses and 474,645 total doses are up to Wednesday, March 3rd.

Vigilance

Speaking in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday, Mr Martin urged vigilance as Covid-19 cases rise in a number of European countries.

The Fianna Fáil leader said vaccines were working in Ireland, however, new variants of the coronavirus remained a cause for concern. “The good news is the vaccines are working,” he said.

“They are reducing the impact of this virus and this can be seen in the reduced levels of infection in our nursing homes and among our frontline healthcare workers.”

Pointing to the 14-day incidence level of Covid cases falling below 200 this week for the first time since Christmas, Mr Martin said the continued fall in numbers “brings hope”.

But he warned the health service was still “under pressure” despite numbers in hospitals and ICUs “reducing significantly”.

“There has been a steady decline in case numbers principally because the vast majority of people are adhering to the guidelines,” he said.

“However, we have to remain vigilant. The new variant doesn’t let us relax for a moment.”

Mr Martin added that cases are “now on the rise in a number of member states across the European Union”.

“The Government and the HSE are doing everything it can to secure supplies and to give those vaccines to people as quickly as possible,” Mr Martin said.

Challenging

On Friday Mr Martin admitted meeting the target of issuing 1.25 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of March is proving “very challenging” as the Government considers a push for an improved system of sharing unused vaccines in the EU.

According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Ireland will be part of a group of member states likely to write to the European Commission next week, arguing for a formalised redistribution mechanism to kick in when a surplus of vaccines accumulates in a member state.

There is significant and ongoing concern in Government over the reliability of deliveries from AstraZeneca. Delivery figures for February were less than half of that anticipated in the Government’s plan for managing the pandemic.

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