Covid-19: A further five deaths and 270 new cases confirmed by Nphet

Dr Tony Holohan says ‘no room for complacency’ in approach to virus

There were 31 cases of Covid-19 in ICU on Wednesday. File photograph: Alan Betson

There were 31 cases of Covid-19 in ICU on Wednesday. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

A further five deaths and 270 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Wednesday evening, as the Chief Medical Officer warned there was no room for complacency in the national approach to the virus.

This brings the total number of virus-related deaths in the State to 2,074 since the pandemic began and to 73,066 the total number of confirmed cases of the virus in the Republic.

Of the new cases, 58 are in Dublin, 38 in Donegal, 28 in Wicklow, 25 in Mayo, 24 in Limerick with the remaining 97 cases are spread across 21 other counties.

As of 2pm today, 231 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 31 are in ICU. There have been 27 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan said it was important to keep up the progress achieved in recent weeks in relation to the virus.

“Ireland now has the lowest 14-day incidence of Covid-19 in the EU, according to the latest European Centre for Disease Control figures, and we need to hold firm to this position,” said Dr Holohan. “As the country moves into Level 3, there is no room for complacency in our response to Covid-19.

“When you are out in shops and accessing services, try to avoid high-risk situations and wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible on busy streets and crowded outdoor areas.”

Dr Holohan reiterated the importance of hand-washing after going shopping or being outdoors.

“For those of us who cannot work from home, the wearing of a face covering is now advised when moving around busy indoor workplaces and in communal work areas. If you are planning to travel around your county, consider first whether it is absolutely necessary to travel.

“Your individual actions are vital to our national effort to suppress the transmission of this disease,” Dr Holohan added.

UK vaccination

The latest figures come on a day when the UK became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for use and said that it will be rolled out from early next week.

Pfizer said the UK’s emergency-use authorisation marks a historic moment in the fight against Covid-19.

Some 12,000 people in Northern Ireland should start getting the vaccine in less than two weeks’ time, the North’s health minister Robin Swann said.

The rollout of the newly approved vaccine was due to begin on Monday week, December 14th, but Mr Swann said that could be brought forward by a couple of days and vaccination could actually start next week.

“This is the start, it is not the end,” said Mr Swann in welcoming the UK authorisation of the vaccine. “It is the beginning of the end.”

News of the authorisation of the vaccine was announced as the North’s health department reported four more deaths from coronavirus, taking the death toll to 1,015. There were 52 deaths in the last seven days.

Also on Wednesday the health department recorded 416 new cases of the virus bringing the total to 53,272.

Hospital bed occupancy is now at 99 per cent in Northern Ireland. There are 416 patients receiving Covid treatment, with 37 in intensive care and 29 on ventilators.

The overall 7-day Covid figure for Northern Ireland is 134 cases per 100,000 of population.

Outbreaks

Also on Wednesday, latest figures for the State’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre showed there were a further 348 outbreaks or clusters of Covid-19 over the past week.

The number of new outbreaks recorded in private homes dropped significantly. There were 262 outbreaks traced to private homes in the past week, down from 652 recorded the week before.

Outbreaks in private homes accounted for the majority of the 348 new outbreaks recorded by the HPSC in the week up to November 28th.

There were six further outbreaks reported in nursing homes, and ten in hospitals.

There were also 21 outbreaks recorded in workplaces, 12 linked to schools, and five traced to childcare facilities. In the case of schools the HPSC said the outbreaks had not been tied to confirmed transmission of the virus within schools, but positive cases among school staff or students.

Of the outbreaks in workplaces, two involved food processing plants, and two involved construction sites.

There were 10 outbreaks in hospitals, six in nursing homes, five in childcare facilities and 12 in universities/colleges, as well as two associated with retail outlets, and one associated with a religious/other ceremony.

More than a quarter of nursing homes are currently dealing with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 among staff or residents, according to figures from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Figures from the healthcare watchdog, provided to The Irish Times, show as of Monday 156 nursing homes have reported current confirmed or suspected cases.