TWELVE new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in Limerick this Wednesday - the highest daily total locally in over three weeks.
There have now been more than 950 confirmed cases of the disease reported in Limerick since the end of February, and today's daily total represents the highest since September 7 when 15 new instances were reported.
Data also released from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reveals Limerick's 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 stands at 35.4 - less than half the national average of 88.5 cases per 100,000 people.
Nationally, one more person has died from coronavirus, meaning there's now been 1,804 fatalities from the condition.
The HPSC has also been notified of 429 confirmed cases of Covid-19 nationally, bringing the total number of cases to 36,155 across the country.
Of the new cases, 203 are men and 226 are women. Some 65% of the cases are people under 45 years of age. Almost half are confirmed to be associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case, while 77 have been identified as community transmission.
The majority of the cases - 189 - were reported in Dublin, with 60 in Cork, 31 in Donegal, 28 in Galway, 18 in Kildare, 15 in Wicklow, 15 in Clare, 12 in Limerick, nine in Meath, eight in Louth, seven in Cavan and Longford respectively, six in Laois, five in Offally and Westmeath each, with the remaining 14 cases in eight counties.
The HSE is working to identify any contacts the patients may have had to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.
Dr Ronan Glynn, the acting chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "This evening there are 130 people with Covid-19 in hospital – 15 in the last 24 hours. Recently we asked everyone to half their social contacts. Reducing the number of people that we meet - and engaging safely with a small core group - remains the cornerstone of our collective effort to reduce the spread of this virus and its impact on our health and the health of the people that we care about.”
Dr Colm Henry, the chief clinical officer at the HSE, added: "Community transmission represents the greatest threat to patients and staff in hospitals and residential care facilities. When you are making plans to meet friends and socialise this week, take a minute to consider our healthcare workers, who have been at the frontline since the beginning of the pandemic, in hospitals, in nursing homes and in our homes, caring for those who are ill and those who are the most vulnerable to this highly infectious virus. Every time you wear a facemask, wash your hands, cover your coughs and keep your distance, your actions are not only preventing the transmission of the virus, but you are also protecting older and vulnerable people and healthcare workers.”
Professor Philip Nolan, chair of Nphet's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: "The R number is now between 1.2 and 1.4. While we are cautiously optimistic about Dublin, we have seen relatively high case numbers in the last few days, and it will be a number of days yet before the pattern is clear. Case numbers are clearly rising across the country. We need to remain vigilant, to ensure we do not lose the ground that we have gained across the capital city since we moved to Level 3, and to ensure we do not see further deterioration outside the capital."
Dr Breda Smyth, director of public health, HSE West added: "I am asking people of all ages to play their part to suppress this virus. It is important for everyone to stay connected, but you need to do this in a safe way, at a distance, and virtually as much as you can. If you have symptoms, stay at home, call your doctor to arrange for a test and let the people that you live with know about it as soon as possible. If you find out that you are close contact, please come forward for testing. Remember that Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease that can have a devastating impact on your health at any age."