THE number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Limerick has been recorded as 666 over the last two weeks- with 37 new instances confirmed today.
Statistics out this teatime reveal that the incidence rate across the city and county across the last 24 hours has also risen again - from 334.5 per 100,000 people yesterday to 341.7 today. It stands above the national average of 220.1 cases.
On Christmas Eve, the incidence rate in Limerick was 250.4 per 100,000 people.
Nationally, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been notified of one additional death related to Covid-19. It means there have now been a total of 2,205 fatalities from the condition across the State.
There has also been another sharp rise in daily confirmed cases nationally - up 765 to bring it to a total of 86,894 since the onset of the pandemic in March.
Of today's new cases, 401 are men and 358 are women. Seven in ten of the new cases relate to people under the age of 45, with the average age now just 33 years.
The majority of the new cases - 291 - were once again recorded in Dublin, followed by 63 in Cork, 59 in Monaghan, 49 in Louth and 43 in Meath.
The remaining 260 cases are spread across all other Irish counties, including the 37 in Limerick, 23 in Kerry, 14 in Clare and less than five in Tipperary.
As of 2pm, 359 Covid-19 patients are in hospital, of which 30 are in intensive care. There has been 41 additional hospitalisations in the last 24 hours, five additional intensive care admissions.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "The data we are reporting today are lower than days up to December 26. This however results from factors related to the time of the year, such as the lower rates of attendance and referrals and presentation for testing for several days over Christmas.
"We look at many metrics when monitoring the disease severity of COVID-19. Today we are reporting that we have now exceeded the cumulative number of people hospitalised in this third wave than in the second. Hospitalisations have increased sharply in the last two days. This is a concerning trend which reflects the sharp increase incidence we saw in the last 10 days."
"We are also seeing a steep rise in the positivity rates in community testing with a seven day average of over 9.2 percent up from 5.2 percent on 18th December. This indicates that the virus is increasing its foothold out in our communities. This is just one more reason why we are strongly advising everyone to stay safely at home to avoid transmitting or catching this virus, as it continues to circulate widely," he added.
Dr Holohan urged people to come forward for testing if they feel unwell, be aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and do not delay in phoning your GP for advice.
He added people should self-isolate in their bedrooms if they have a cough, dever, shortness of breath or a chance in their sense odf smell and taste.
"In addition to staying at home except for essential reasons, these important individual actions will help to stop the exponential spread of COVID-19 in our communities and in turn protect the most vulnerable, our healthcare system and those who work on the frontlines," the chief medical officer concluded.