THE 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 is closing on 1,000 in Limerick as the number of confirmed cases of the condition locally has once again surged.
Data just released from the Department of Health shows there are 234 new confirmed cases - the second highest daily rise after yesterday's 652 cases.
There has been 1,908 confirmed coronavirus cases in Limerick across the past fortnight, with the 14-day incidence rate now standing at 979.0 per 100,000 people.
By comparision, the national incidence rate average is 582.8 per 100,000, with a record high number of 6,110 new cases.
The chair of Nphet’s Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Prof Philip Nolan told a briefing that he's "seeing numbers I never thought I'd see".
Nationally, there has been six additional deaths related to Covid-19, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,265 people since the onset of the pandemic last March.
As of midnight on Sunday, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) was notified of 6,110 confirmed cases of Covid-19. There is now a total of 107,997 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.
Of today's new cases, 2,911 are men with 3,195 men. Some 63% are people under the age of 45, with the median age being 36 years old.
Limerick has seen the fourth highest daily rise in cases. It's behind Dublin, which has 3,655 new cases, Kildare with 323 and 291 in Cork.
Elsewhere, 137 new cases have been reported in Louth with the remainder spread across all other counties.
This includes 55 new cases in Clare, 129 in Kerry, and 44 in Tipperary.
Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "Leaders and organisations in communities across the country now need to support their colleagues, neighbours, family and friends to keep to the spirit of public health advice. We must restrict our movements, we have to limit the people we interact with outside of our households, if we are to suppress the virus and sustain our essential services."
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, Department of Health, added: "People particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 include older persons and people with pre-existing medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. The incidence of disease in the community is now at a level where vulnerable people need to stay at home unless absolutely essential."
Professor Nolan said: "Scenario models raise the possibility of 1,500-2,000 people in hospital, and 200-400 people in intensive care by mid-January if we do not act to radically reduce transmission and incidence. It will take all of us, adopting the public health measures of staying home and reducing contacts, to suppress current levels of disease."
Liam Woods, the HSE's national director of acute operations, said: "We are introducing curtailments in non-essential services in adult hospitals in order to cope with increasing Covid-19 admissions. This will be subject to ongoing review. In the event of emergency attend an Emergency Department as usual and if you have any concerns regarding your health, Covid or non Covid related, always contact your GP in the first instance."
Prof Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee said; “The vaccination programme has commenced for the first priority groups. The roll out has been accelerated this week. As we continue to provide vaccines across the population we urge anyone with concerns or questions to contact their GP, pharmacist or healthcare service provider for factual and reliable information. The HSE.ie website also provides reliable information around vaccine efficacy and safety."
Earlier today, the first vaccine was administered in Limerick.