Coronavirus: 10 further deaths and 426 new cases in State with 1.4m doses administered

Nphet says ‘level of uncertainty’ remains despite ‘improving’ Covid situation

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

A further 426 new cases and ten further deaths linked to Covid-19 were reported by health authorities in the State on Tuesday.

Of the deaths reported today 4 occurred in April, 5 occurred March and one in February.

The median age of those who died was 84 years and the age range was 77-97 years.

There has been a total of 4,884 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland, and 247,489 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

As of Sunday, 1,398,061 vaccine doses had been administered. Some 998,134 people had received one dose, and of these 399,927 had received their second dose.

Earlier, it emerged that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) told the Government in recent days that there was a “level of uncertainty” about an otherwise broadly stable or improving Covid-19 situation in Ireland, while the protective effect of vaccination had yet to cover much of the population.

In a letter sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly last week, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the overall epidemiological situation “remains concerning but is currently stable or improving”.

He said, however, that “there is a level of uncertainty given case counts in recent days”, especially the 617 cases announced last Thursday, the day the letter was sent. The R number was estimated by Dr Holohan as being close to 1, with a range of 0.9 to 1.1.

There has been a “significant impact” of vaccination among older people and healthcare workers, he wrote, but warned that “while there is strong evidence of the protective effect from vaccination in those who have been immunised, the population is largely not yet protected”.

“As such, the situation remains fragile and any increase in close contact represents a significant risk.”

The letter outlines how the Nphet had an “initial discussion” about future Covid strategy “taking into account a broad spectrum of relevant considerations”. That discussion is set to continue tomorrow, before a key cabinet subcommittee meeting.

The letter outlines that 2,612 cases were notified in the seven days leading up to last Wednesday, a 7 per cent decrease from the previous week, while the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of population has decreased to 113.

While the community testing positivity rate is, as usual, higher than the overall rate, at 8.3 per cent, Dr Holohan wrote that only four counties have a community positivity rate greater than 10 per cent, and 21 counties have one lower than five per cent.

Household close contact positivity rates are at 31.6 per cent. Clusters in hospitals continue to decrease, with a 13 per cent decrease in the week running up to the letter being sent.