Care home workers in Northern Ireland have been urged to get Covid-19 jabs after it emerged that about a quarter of staff have not been vaccinated.
On Thursday, Eddie Lynch, Northern Ireland's independent commissioner for older people, said that more than a fifth of care homes in the North were experiencing coronavirus outbreaks.
The North's Department of Health disclosed that currently there are outbreaks at 103 care homes in Northern Ireland.
Mr Lynch said that unlike last year the outbreaks involved small numbers of cases and that the number of people getting very seriously ill was “very small at the minute”.
However, in light of official figures showing about a quarter of care staff have not been vaccinated, he appealed for such workers to get inoculated.
“I would call on anyone who can be vaccinated to do so as soon as possible because we all know from this virus that the higher percentage of people who are vaccinated the less chance of transmitting the virus,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
The department in its daily bulletin on Thursday afternoon reported three more deaths of coronavirus patients.
There were 25 deaths in the past seven days compared with 16 in the previous week.
There were 1,641 new virus cases confirmed. There are 226 patients receiving Covid-19 treatment in Northern Irish hospitals with 39 in intensive care and 27 on ventilators.
HSE data released on Thursday shows that the Border counties of Donegal and Louth have among the highest rates of the virus in the Republic.
Carndonagh in Co Donegal has retained its position as having the country’s highest rate of Covid-19 transmission, although rates have begun to drop.
The local electoral area (LEA) has recorded a 14-day infection incidence rate of 2,110 cases per 100,000 population, making it the most infectious of the 166 areas measured each week.
Of the highest 10 transmission areas, Buncrana is in second position with 1,297 cases per 100,000 and Milford is in ninth with a case rate of 712.
Galway City, also high-ranking in the previous round-up, finds itself in fourth place with 1,064 cases per 100,000 – a rate higher than last week although it has fallen from third position. That is now occupied by Westport, Co Mayo, with 1,230 cases per 100,000.
Parts of Co Louth also continue to find themselves highly ranked in terms of transmission levels. The Dundalk Carlingford LEA is ranked fifth (805 cases) and Dundalk South is in seventh (755).