A further 506 cases of Covid-19 and one death from the virus were confirmed in the State yesterday as new figures on where the incidence of infection is highest were made public.
Lifford/Stranorlar in Co Donegal remains the national "hotspot" for Covid-19, with a 14-day incidence of 602.6 cases per 100,000 people, according to the figures.
This is more than five times the national average of 116.4, figures published on the Government's data hub show.
Granard in Co Longford has the second-highest incidence nationally, at 384.1, while Monaghan local electoral area ranks third, at 317.3. Kimmage/Rathmines has the highest incidence in Dublin, at 306.1, and the fourth-highest figure nationally.
Other areas outside Dublin with high levels of the virus – an incidence above 200 – include Buncrana in Co Donegal, Kilrush in Co Clare, Boyle in Co Roscommon, Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan, Galway City Central, Ennis, Cork City South-Central and Bray East in Co Wicklow.
In the capital, Ballyfermot/Drimnagh, Ongar, Dublin North Inner City and Swords also have incidences over 200.
Of the 506 new cases confirmed on Thursday, 64 per cent are under 45 years of age and 39 per cent are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case, the National Public Health Emergency Team said in a statement. Some 59 cases have been identified as community transmission.
Some 91 of the new cases were in Dublin, 76 in Cork, 53 in Donegal, 42 in Meath and the remaining 244 cases were located across 21 counties.
In the North figures released by the Department of Health on Thursday afternoon showed 923 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the second highest total on record. In the last seven days 4,674 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the North, out of a total of 17,110 since the start of the pandemic. One more coronavirus-related death was reported, bringing the total recorded by the Department to 587.
The North’s first and deputy first ministers warned on Thursday of tough and significant decisions ahead as the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalisations continue to rise.
Dr Illona Duffy, a GP in Monaghan Town, said the same level of coronavirus restrictions had to be adopted on both sides of the Border.
“If you look at their figures compared to our figures, and realising their population is a third of ours, it’s just massive, just bonkers numbers, so the risks are way higher by being up there,” she said.
Restrictions similar to the Level 3 measures in place in State were introduced in Derry and Strabane from Monday, but conditions are more relaxed in the rest of the North.
“We have to ensure that having harsh restrictions on one side of the Border doesn’t mean people start flooding to the other side of the Border,” Dr Duffy said.
She said young people, including some who had finished their Leaving Cert, had rented apartments in Belfast and had been socialising in the city, and that while "quite a few of the initial cases were coming from that" they had then returned home and spread the virus more widely in the community.
Meanwhile, almost 400 private homes experienced outbreaks of Covid-19 last week, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The 395 clusters of the disease reported in private homes involved 3,199 cases.
The country’s four Catholic archbishops have requested a meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin to address concerns about the loss of mass services during Covid-19 restrictions. In their letter they say that for many the loss of these spiritual supports can be a source of great anxiety and fear, and can have a detrimental impact on their overall health and well-being.