2,608 cases, 51 additional deaths

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The Department of Health has been notified of 2,608 new cases of Covid-19 and 51 additional deaths.

Professor Philip Nolan said the positivity rate of tests has now fallen to 11.7 per cent, with the community positivity rate now at approximately 13 per cent.

Prof Nolan added that while he was happy to report a fall in the incidence of the virus, he warned there continues to be “exceptional high levels [of Covid-19] in the community”.

In the North today, 732 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded, with 21 additional deaths.

Earlier today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland is “nowhere near” easing Level 5 restrictions, but added schools may be able to reopen in February.

Mr Varadkar’s comments came after the publication of Dr Holohan’s letter to the Minister for Health, dated January 14th, in which he warned Ireland could see up to 1,000 Covid-related deaths this month.

“We are seeing rapidly increasing incidence in long-term care settings and vulnerable groups.

“The marked impact of widespread transmission is being observed in both the number and scale of new outbreaks occurring in health and social care settings, including in acute hospitals and long-term residential care facilities,” the letter read.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid echoed Dr Holohan’s unease, saying thhe Covid-19 situation in Irish hospitals is at the “highest level of concern” since the pandemic began.

Speaking at the HSE’s weekly briefing, Mr Reid said all healthcare systems still remain on “extremely high alert”, with 43 per cent of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 being under the age 65.

The Government has also updated the Covid-10 Data Hub to show 121,900 people in the Republic have now received their first dose of the vaccine.



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