Covid-19: Seven additional deaths, 1,372 new cases –


The Department of Health has reported seven more coronavirus-related deaths.

There have been 688 deaths so far in January associated with Covid-19 and 2,977 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The median age of those who died is 77 years of age and the age range is 43-94 years.

A further 1,372 new cases of Covid-19 have also been reported, bringing the total number of cases here to 188,923.

There are 219 people in intensive care with Covid-19, up one on yesterday.

Chair of NPHET’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan said there has been a “continued rapid improvement” in the incidence of the disease.

He said the number of people in hospital had peaked and plateaued and should begin to decline over the coming weeks. But he said “we expect those numbers to remain high for many weeks to come”.

He said the number of admissions to hospital has decreased, with an average of below 100 over past seven days.

He said the number of people in ICU is a third more than the peak of the first wave in March and April.

Mr Nolan said very recently we have seen the highest number of deaths we have seen throughout the pandemic.

He said the 14-day incidence rate continued to decline and is now 766.2 per 100,000 population.

Co Monaghan has the highest incidence rate at 1,485.7 per 100,000 and Co Leitrim has the lowest at 271.5 per 100,000.

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He said the situation where the incidence rate was higher in younger people and lower in older people has reversed. Prof Nolan said they remain worried about the incidence rate of the disease in those aged 65 and older.

Prof Nolan said people needed to continue to keep their contacts low. He said NPHET can clearly see the efforts that people are making to stay apart which is contributing to a decrease in daily case numbers.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was no evidence of cases here of the variant of Covid-19 identified in Brazil.

“What we’re seeing isn’t out of kilter with what we expected with the existing variant.”

Prof Philip Nolan said no evidence of increased mortality from the UK variant.

When asked about quarantine for people coming into the country, Dr Ronan Glynn said any measure that reduced someone who is infected or infectious coming into the country is welcome.

He said we have reasonably significant levels of travel into the country but they are a shadow of pre-pandemic activity.

In relation to schools Dr Glynn said they would not speculate on what level the disease needs to be at in order for schools to reopen.

He said the reduction in mobility of people around the country had led directly to a reduction in close contacts.

Dr Glynn said that while the data presented by Prof Philip Nolan was promising, he said the level of disease is “way higher than where we want to be or need to be”.

He said now is not the time to see a rise in mobility of people.

When asked about EU countries recommending surgical masks Dr Glynn said they are looking at what Austria has introduced.

He said “in the first instance we’re keen that any change re masks would ensure that supply is sufficient for people in healthcare settings”

He said not to get overly concerned about the type of mask, but said wear a mask appropriately.

In relation to close contacts, Professor Nolan said: “We are monitoring the number of close contacts very closely. The number per case has been below 2.5 since the beginning of January, we can see the efforts people are making to stay apart.”

“This is leading to a change in the behavior of the disease, it was growing at 18% per day in the run-up to January and is now decreasing by 8% to 10% per day.”

Dr Glynn said there have been reports of significant outbreaks associated with funerals.

When asked about the vaccine he said there was not too much he could say on the delay in vaccine supply.

“The high level task force [for vaccines] met today and it is clear that the vast majority of the supply to this country has been given out. Hopefully it won’t impact too much.”

A GP based in Co Waterford Dr Dermot Nolan told the NPHET media briefing that wave three of the disease had hit his community hard with up to one in 20 people affected by Covid-19.

He highlighted two recent cases: “We treated a family where all the members tested positive.

“During the isolation period, a 10-year-old boy developed acute appendicitis. His parents were not permitted access to the hospital with him so he had to go in and face the operation alone.

“He was very brave and made a full recovery, but I want to ask all parents to consider how they would feel in this situation?”

He said another patient, a woman who presented with new onset heart failure, refused to get treatment in hospital because she was so terrified of contracting Covid-19.

“She opted not to go and this ultimately put her life at risk.”

Dr Nolan said he was still treating “young, fit patients who contracted Covid-19 several weeks ago and still have extreme lethargy and breathing problems”.

In Northern Ireland, 17 further deaths of people with Covid-19 have been recorded, 12 occurring during the past 24 hours.

It takes the official death toll there to 1,747. There are 828 confirmed coronavirus patients in hospital, with 74 in ICU – 50 of whom are on ventilators.

Latest figures reveal 182,355 vaccines have been administered in the North, of which 159,642 were first doses and 22,732 were second doses.

Meanwhile, a meat processing plant in Co Wexford has confirmed 42 positive Covid-19 cases following screening of staff.

Slaney Foods in Bunclody said this evening it is operating at a “significantly reduced capacity” as a result of the outbreak.

“In line with Covid-19 protocols, all close contacts of those impacted are currently self-isolating,” the company told RTÉ News in a statement.

The cases were detected following testing of staff last Friday.

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