Thirteen further deaths and 1,269 new cases of Covid-19 recorded in the Republic

Meath is county with highest number of new coronavirus cases on Tuesday at 221

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said people should stay at home over the next six weeks of Level 5 restrictions. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said people should stay at home over the next six weeks of Level 5 restrictions. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 

Thirteen further deaths and 1,269 new cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the Republic, with the North reporting three deaths and 913 new cases.

All the deaths notified today occurred recently, according to the Department of Health.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said people should stay at home over the next six weeks of Level 5 restrictions unless they have an exceptional reason not to do so.

They need to remain at home “as much as possible” after the highest level of restrictions kick in from Thursday, unless they are providing essential services, taking exercise or visiting others for care, he said.

There have now been a total of 1,865 coronavirus related deaths, while the total number of cases now stands at 52,256.

Of the cases notified today, 657 are men and 609 are women. A total of 63 per cent are under 45, while the median age is 34.

Meath is the county with the highest number of new coronavirus cases on Tuesday at 221, while Dublin had 203. There were 116 in Cork and 80 in Cavan, with the remaining 649 spread across all other counties.

As of 2pm today, 312 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised and 34 of them were in ICU. There have been 13 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Assistant chief medical officer Dr Heather Burns said there has been a further significant deterioration in the profile of the disease, with a 14-day national incidence of 279 cases per 100,000 people, the highest on record.

Nineteen counties have an incidence of over 200 and seven are over 100, she said.

So far this month, there have been 54 deaths, Dr Burns said.

According to Dr Holohan, there has been a “worrying rise” in cases among people aged over 65. One-sixth of people in this age group who contracted the virus would be hospitalised, 20 per cent of these would need ICU and 20 per cent of these would die, he said.

Urging people to “pull together” for the six weeks of Level 5 restrictions, he said it would take a “big societal effort” to get the virus back under control.

The challenge was to prevent Covid-19 threatening the provision of regular health services, and to protect the vulnerable and the continued provision of education services, he said.

Welcoming the introduction of fines for infringement of Covid-19 rules, Dr Holohan said they would have a “marginal but helpful effect”.

He stressed the need for people who have symptoms, or who are close contacts of cases, to self-isolate; “This means not just that you stay at home, but that you stay in your room, separate from other people in the house”.

Public health departments were reporting “lot of cases” involving people with symptoms going to work, he pointed out.

Only half of contacts of cases were turning up for their second test seven days after the first, HSE integrated care lead Dr Siobhán Ní Bhriain told the Nphet briefing.

Dr Burns said testing has taken place in 519 schools, involving 12,658 adults and children. This results in an additional 352 cases being tested. The positivity rate was 2.8 per cent, compared to a national average of 7.2 per cent.

When cases were investigated, it was often found that they originated in the home or another setting, for example when people attended work while symptomatic.

Schools were “relatively controlled” environments and the data indicated they are not key drivers for transmission of the virus, she said.

Following days of warnings from senior public health officials about the continuing spread of Covid-19, the Government on Monday night reversed its previous stance and announced the introduction of Level 5 restrictions for the entire State for the next six weeks.

In a televised address to the country from Government Buildings on Monday night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that while the restrictions of recent weeks have “slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough, and further action is now required”.

The decision was announced after a Cabinet meeting arranged at short notice on Monday gave its approval for the move, although not without some dissent from Ministers. The measures come into place tomorrow night.