Coronavirus: 68 further deaths and 556 cases reported in the State

Any easing of restrictions will be ‘conservative and cautious’, warns Taoiseach

A further 68 deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team. This brings to 3,752 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Fifty of the deaths occurred in February, 15 in January and two in December.

Those who died ranged in age from 43 to 96 years and the median age was 85.

Hospital Report

Nphet also reported 556 confirmed cases of the disease, the lowest daily figure since December 19th.


The new cases included 163 in Dublin, 45 in Limerick, 38 in Galway, 34 in Cork and 29 in Waterford, with the remaining 247 cases spread across 20 other counties.

The median age of cases was 39 years and 60 per cent were under 45.

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at 319 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Monaghan has the highest incidence by county, followed by Carlow. Roscommon recorded the lowest incidence.

On Tuesday afternoon, 1,104 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 182 were in ICU. There were 54 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours. The five-day moving average is 856 cases per day.

As of last Saturday, 236,996 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Ireland; 152,652 people first doses and 84,344 second doses.

Meanwhile, Nursing Homes Ireland has said its members would be keeping records of staff who choose not to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.

Chief executive Tadhg Daly said vaccine hesitancy was not a big issue, with uptake of over 90 per cent in the sector.

“The challenge for all of us across all of the healthcare system is what are the next steps, in terms of if there is either a percentage of people who have whatever reason, chosen not to take the vaccine,” he said, speaking on RTÉ Radio.

“There are those who have legitimate concerns and that’s appropriate. But I think what we need to do collectively is to have all of the information, that they are supported, and given all of the correct information so they can make an informed choice.”

The issue of unvaccinated staff is likely to be reviewed within the health service when the inoculation of all staff in healthcare settings is completed.

Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Government would adopt a "conservative and cautious" approach to the reopening of schools and construction and would not move until the numbers were consistently very low.

While identifying both sectors as priorities for Government, Mr Martin would not commit himself to a date as to when they would happen.

Mr Martin said there would be greater clarity “towards the middle of this month” about when certain services might resume.

Speaking as he arrived for the weekly Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings, Mr Martin said the levels were “still too high” in hospitals.

“We must do whatever we can to get those numbers down, and particularly to relieve the pressure on our frontline healthcare workers. I think we have some distance to go yet.”

He said Ministers at the meeting would be discussing additional support for businesses and employees who remain in furlough.

“We will be conservative and cautious in relation to any reopening. The objective is prolonged suppression of the virus to get the numbers down very low and keep them very low,” he said.

He welcomed the reopening of special needs education on a phased basis and said the Government would assess the situation in relation to other schools, and the issue of the Leaving Certificate, closer to the middle of February.

“The numbers are coming down. We need to get them to lower levels. We need to relieve the pressure on healthcare workers,” he said.

Leaving Cert

Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan expressed optimism about the Leaving Certificate taking place.

He said he thought the exams should go ahead. “With vaccinations, by June a lot of the most vulnerable will have had their second shot by then. We will see far less hospitalisation. We should be able to do the Leaving Certificate,” he said.

He said he also favoured a reopening of construction as soon as it is deemed safe. “We need those homes. We have a real housing crisis. The sooner we can go back building homes, the better.

“The numbers are continuing to come down. The positivity rate continues to edge lower. If we keep that up they (education and construction) will be the first phases back.”

The current Level 5 lockdown restrictions are in place until March 5th, at which point it is expected the majority of measures will again be extended.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien has said he hoped the construction industry will be able to restart work from March 5th.


Public health officials on Monday said there were no immediate plans to ease visiting restrictions in nursing homes, despite the rollout of the vaccine to the facilities.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn declined to state when fully vaccinated people would be able to visit vaccinated nursing home residents.

The “intention” of officials was that the worst of the disease had passed, Dr Glynn told a National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing.

There were many reasons for optimism, including the co-operation of the public, the rollout of vaccines and the approach of a better period of weather, allowing more outdoor activity, he said.

Nphet officials reported steady progress in reducing case numbers, which are forecast to drop to 200 to 400 by the end of the month.

The number of patients in hospital has fallen to 60 per cent of their peak levels last month. So far, more than 230,000 vaccine doses have been administered.