Covid: Further 4,642 cases confirmed with virus now ‘prolific’ in Ireland

There are now 556 coronavirus patients in hospital, including 107 receiving treatment in intensive care units.
Covid: Further 4,642 cases confirmed with virus now ‘prolific’ in Ireland

Ireland has again recorded a high daily total of new Covid infections, with 4,642 cases notified.

There are now 556 coronavirus patients in hospital, including 107 receiving treatment in intensive care units.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid called for people to immediately reduce risky activities in order to improve the situation.

In a tweet on Saturday morning, Mr Reid said the virus was now "prolific in most communities" in the State.

He said 250 Covid patients were receiving enhanced respiratory support.

He added that an “an immediate reduction” of risky activities is needed to “turn this around”.

Case numbers in the coming days are likely to remain at such high levels, as the process of clearing a massive backlog of tests is under way.

The update comes amid a forecast by US academics that says Ireland could record more than 12,000 Covid cases a day by Christmas.

Cases would peak at 12,300 a day in late December before falling again, while a further 2,000 deaths would occur by the start of March, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is based at the University of Washington.

The Irish Times reports that the institute, which has correctly predicted trends earlier in the pandemic, attributes the rise in cases in the Northern Hemisphere to winter seasonality, waning immunity, decreased mask use and increased mobility levels.

Meanwhile, a new plan to tackle rising Covid cases will see antigen testing kits offered at a subsidised rate through more retail outlets.

The Government is coming under pressure to pause its plans for a full return to the workplace and to advise people to work from home where possible.

Fresh advice to the Government from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended that people engaging in what are described as high-risk activities, such as going to nightclubs and bars, should take at least two antigen tests a week.

Elsewhere, rising case counts across Europe have forced a rethink on public-health measures by many governments.

The Netherlands has ordered bars, restaurants and non-essential stores to close at 7pm for at least three weeks starting on Saturday. Austria is planning to place millions of unvaccinated people in lockdown.

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