Covid-19: Under 45s account for bulk of new cases as 16 more deaths are recorded

Scally says ‘amazing amount of travel’ still happening as daily case rate remains over 500

Sixteen further deaths and 543 new cases of Covid-19 have been announced.

It brings the number of deaths to 4,534 and the number of cases to 226,358.

Three deaths occurred in March, 12 in February and one in January.

The numbers in hospital and in intensive care units (ICU) continue to decline.


There were 340 people in hospital on Saturday morning down seven on Friday.

There were 85 people in ICU at 11am, down two on the same time on Friday.

Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of the latest cases are aged under 45 years, and the median age is 29 years old.

The number of vaccines that have been administered has now surpassed 600,000 according to the HSE chief executive Paul Reid.

According to published data, as of Wednesday, 570,391 vaccines had been administered with 409,662 first doses and 160,729 second doses.

Mr Reid said on Saturday that the supply of vaccines “will improve” and that 600,000 of “the most vulnerable have been protected and prioritised.

“The oldest, in nursing homes and community, now at less risk. Our healthcare workers can look after our sickest, feeling safer. The right approach for now,” Mr Reid said on Twitter.

He later clarified the tweet, saying 600,000 vaccinations had been completed in total

The figures come as public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally voiced concern that there is still “plenty of virus circulating” and that “an amazing amount of travel” is happening.

Dr Scally said Covid-19 is an “extraordinarily dangerous virus and we can’t afford not to take precautions and get it under control”.

He told RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon that various countries are experiencing a surge in cases and that Ireland “can’t take for granted that it’s going to be a smooth downward path”.

“I think the other thing to remember is, it was a heck of a peak that was reached in January and February,” he said.

“It was avoidable but decisions were made and we had the huge spike of cases and we’ve to get down from a very high peak and that is difficult because it takes time and commitment and observance of difficult rules. I can understand a lot of the frustration about that but it’s got to be got down.”

Vaccine rollout

Meanwhile Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler said the vaccine rollout has had to adapt to “the various changes it faces almost daily now in relation to the amount of vaccines we are receiving into the country”.

Ms Butler said even though the priority for this week continues to be on the over 80 age cohort, the rollout is still in line with the Government’s prioritisation schedule.

She said the schedule sets out that all over 70s will have received their first dose by mid-April and a second dose by mid-May.

“We’re still on track in relation to that with the supply that we have received to date, but everything is contingent on supply,” she said.

The Waterford TD said Ireland is due to have received 1.1million doses up to the end of March but that 200,000 of those are expected to be received around the last day of the month, “that will bring us into April to vaccinate”.

However, Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy said GPs around the country received an email on Friday night from the HSE which said there are “ongoing problems” with the delivery of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. She said the plan now was to vaccinate the over 80s over the coming weeks while the over 70s would have to wait.

“We understand receiving and importing the vaccine is outside anybody’s control, it’s all dependent on when they can come and where they can come to,” she said. “I think our real issue is about the lack of communication to GPs and public communication and what their expectations are.”

Dr Duffy said her surgery had been expecting a batch of vaccines to arrive on Friday, with a vaccination clinic planned for Tuesday. She said they were informed earlier this week the vaccines wouldn’t be arriving and had to contact those who had been provisionally booked.

“We feel there needs to be clear clarification by the HSE and the Minister for Health on the delays and to create a new expectation as to when people can expect to have their vaccines given to them,” she added.


Concern has grown in recent days that the number of new cases has remained stuck at about 500-600 every day, months into a third lockdown and despite the start of the vaccine rollout.

A sustained rise in Covid case numbers would endanger plans to reopen construction and other parts of society on April 5th, political and public health leaders have said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the hope is still that rules limiting construction, outdoor activities and travel restrictions can be eased next month. However, he told Virgin Media "reopening on April 5th of any sort won't be possible if we go in the wrong direction in terms of case numbers".

The Taoiseach told RTÉ that "there is no point in opening up and having to close again.

“We have successfully partially reopened the schools, but we will keep an eye on those numbers and it’s the journey between now and closer to April 5th that will determine the announcement on the 5th in terms of what we can do for April.”

Prof Philip Nolan, a senior member of the Nphet told The Irish Times that a rise in case numbers could lead to fundamental changes to the plan.

“We are at a particular juncture, the disease could go either way. I remain optimistic we can bring it back under control but if we can’t, and if case numbers start to rise again, we’d have to re-evaluate the position entirely,” he said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times