Covid-19: 744 more cases and 33 further deaths in the State

Daily new cases could drop to as low as 100 by mid-March, Glynn says

A further 33 deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). Two of the deaths date from January and 31 occurred in February.

Those who died ranged in age from 42 to 105 years and the median age of those who died was 81.

This brings to 3,980 the total number of Covid-19 deaths in the pandemic.

Hospital Report

Nphet also reported 744 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 211,113 the total number of cases in the Republic.

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The figures come amid new projections from Nphet showing that daily Covid-19 cases could drop to between 100 to 300 new cases a day by mid-March, with about 60 patients with the disease needing critical care at the same time.

In a letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn said that the incidence of Covid-19 is falling across most age groups in the State and that mortality rates may now be stabilising.

Of the latest cases announced on Tuesday, 301 are in Dublin, 77 in Galway, 37 in Waterford, 36 in Offaly and32 in Kildare, with the remaining 261 cases spread across all other counties.

The median age of cases is 31 years and 68 per cent are under 45.

On Tuesday afternoon, 861 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, down 55 on the previous day. This included 159 in ICU, up two on Monday. There were 51 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at 269 cases per 100,000 people nationally.

Monaghan had the highest county incidence, followed by Offaly and Dublin.

Cavan, Donegal, Longford and Kerry recorded fewer than five cases on Tuesday, while Kerry had the lowest county incidence.

By Saturday, 268,551 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered, according to the Department of Health.

This includes 176,926 people who have received their first dose and 91,625 people second doses.

According to modelling carried out by Nphet, if the country can maintain a reproduction number for Covid-19 of between 0.5 and 0.9 for the coming weeks, “we remain on track to have 200-400 cases per day by March 1st, 2021, and 100-300 cases per day by March 15th, 2021”, Mr Glynn wrote.

Under the same assumptions, there would be between 500 to 600 people with Covid-19 requiring hospital care and 70-100 such patients in critical care at the end of February. These figures would fall to between 250 to 400 people requiring hospital care and 40-60 in critical care by mid-March.

"Ireland continues to experience a very concerning and fragile epidemiological situation. Incidence is falling but remains high and is currently four times higher than in early December 2020 and 100 times higher than July 2020. The absolute number of symptomatic cases each day continues to decrease while the relative number of asymptomatic cases has increased following the recent resumption of asymptomatic close contact testing," Mr Glynn wrote.

Reducing incidence

The incidence of the disease has reduced across most adult groups and although it remains high in those aged 85 and older, that figure is decreasing too, he said.

The level of infection occurring in healthcare and long-term residential settings, although “very elevated”, is also reducing, he added.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals is reducing and the numbers in ICU have also started to decrease, although this figure remains “very high”, the letter stated.

Mortality from the disease is also considered to still be “very high” but may be stabilising, Dr Glynn said.

“Indicators of mobility and contact remain low, but of some concern, may be drifting upwards. It has been noted that case notifications in Dublin are increasingly contributing to national numbers, with this trend [to] be kept under close review in the coming weeks.”

Dr Glynn also said that the so-called UK coronavirus variant first detected late last year now accounts for approximately 75 per cent of Covid-19 cases here. He told Mr Donnelly that public health authorities in England have also recently designated a new variant of concern and that "developments in this regard will be monitored closely".

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times