Covid-19: People should avoid crowds to reduce exposure – Holohan

Two further deaths and 383 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the State

The chief medical officer said it was important people avoided crowds as reopening continued. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The chief medical officer said it was important people avoided crowds as reopening continued. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

People should avoid crowded situations so as to reduce their exposure to Covid-19, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has advised.

With the approach of the further easing of restrictions next Monday, there will be opportunities to enjoy the better weather and to meet family and close friends safely “and with the public health measures in mind,” he said.  

“The virus is still circulating in the community and is still a risk, particularly to those who have yet to be vaccinated. Collectively we know how to interrupt the spread of this disease, so when you are making plans for the coming week, don’t underestimate the need to keep your distance, meet outdoors where possible and wash your hands.

“And if it’s crowded, turn around and come back another time. Together these simple measures will minimise the risk of infection.”

A further two deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). This brings to 4,908 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported 383 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 250,672 the total number of cases in the Republic.

Of the new cases, 129 were in Dublin, 40 in Kildare, 32 in Meath, 25 in Donegal and 25 in Louth, with the remaining 132 cases spread across 21 other counties.

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at 134 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Donegal has the highest county incidence, followed by Kildare. Kerry has the lowest incidence.

The median age of cases is 28 years and 79 per cent are under 45.

On Tuesday morning, 144 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, up 15 from the previous day. This included 41 in ICU, down one. There were 10 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

By Sunday, 1,604,644 doses of vaccine had been administered: 1,159,083 people first doses and 445,561 second doses.

Meanwhile, the total number of healthworkers who have died with Covid-19 now stands at 18, according to the latest update from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The total number of deaths reported include 4,639 confirmed by a test, 95 probable deaths and 174 possible deaths.

Almost 88 per cent of those who died had an underlying condition.

There were seven deaths among under-25s, and 13 among those aged between 25 and 34. People aged 75 and older accounted for over 76 per cent of deaths.

Monaghan and Mayo were the worst affected counties, with mortality rates of almost 150 per 100,000 people. Sligo had the lowest mortality rate, at 35.

The most severe months during the pandemic were last January, when 1,407 Covid-19 deaths were recorded, and April 2020, when 1,162 occurred.

Last month’s death toll of 72 is the lowest since September 2020, though it may rise due to late notifications.

Donegal figures

Meanwhile, a new walk-in Covid-19 test centre will open in the town of Milford in Co Donegal from Wednesday amid ongoing concern about the high number of infections in the county.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tweeted on Tuesday morning that the test centre would open at Milford Mart for three days from Wednesday, while the centre in Letterkenny would remain open. He added that additional facilities would be announced as part of the “enhanced response” to Covid-19.

There are currently three walk-in testing centres operating in Co Cork, two in Dublin and others in counties Kerry, Kildare, Offaly, Roscommon, Tipperary, Waterford and Westmeath.

The incidence of Covid-19 in Milford stands at 675 cases per 100,000 people and in Letterkenny it is 600. However, in the south of the county the rate of infection is about three times lower than the national average.

Vaccines

From Tuesday people nationwide aged 59 or older can register for a Covid-19 vaccination as the national rollout for those in their 50s gets underway. The HSE has said people aged 50-59 will be able to register for the vaccine over the next 10 days.

At present, when a person registers, the system acknowledges the registration and says an appointment will be made within seven days but does not indicate an actual date for that appointment. The HSE says it plans to vaccinate between 220,000 and 240,000 people in the coming week.

According to the HSE website, 58 year-olds will be able to register on Wednesday, 57 year-olds on Thursday, 56 year-olds on Friday and 55 year-olds on Saturday. Those aged 50 to 54 will be invited to register for their vaccination from Sunday, May 9th and details on registration are available here.

The HSE advised on Monday that older people should be vaccinated first and sent its recommendations to Government ahead of Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

The revised plan has been under consideration since the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) recommended that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines should not be given to the under-50s where possible.

However, officials believe offering the two vaccines to people aged under 50 would not contravene the Niac recommendations, which said use should not be restricted if no other option is available.

It is expected that the same approach will apply to under-50s as to over-50s - meaning that some people in their 40s could be offered the Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca shots.

There had been speculation that the Government would opt to begin vaccinating younger people with Pfizer vaccines while proceeding with the over-50s at a slower pace.

However, it is understood that this has not been recommended due to the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 being greater for the older cohort.

Meanwhile, residents in nursing homes where at least 80 per cent of residents have been fully vaccinated will be able to enjoy four visits per week, according to new HSE guidelines which come into effect on Tuesday. The increase in nursing home visits only applies to residents who have been fully vaccinated for at least two weeks.

Residents in nursing homes where the level of vaccinations has not yet reached 80 per cent will continue to have two visits per week.