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4,642 cases reported in State with virus ‘in most communities’



A further 4,642 cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the State.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said in a statement that as of 8am on Saturday, 556 people were in hospital with the virus, of which 107 were in intensive care units, an increase of 11 on Friday’s total.

On Saturday morning, chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) Paul Reid said the virus was “in most communities” and the public would need to take action to “turn this around”.

“The virus is now prolific in most communities and nobody wants to be the next hospitalised case,” he wrote on Twitter.

“An immediate reduction by all of us of risk activities is needed to turn this around.”

Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate now stands at more than 950 cases per 100,000 population, meaning close to one per cent of the entire population has tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days.

Separately, the chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said the current level of transmission in Ireland was one of the highest over “the entire course of the pandemic”.

He also urged: “Before you leave the house, think about the number of people you are going to meet, and the risk associated with the activities you have planned.

“Keep your contacts low and avoid crowds; wear a mask correctly; meet outside if possible; avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces; practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.”

Dr Holohan said vaccination remained extraordinarily effective against severe disease, with the vast majority of people with Covid-19 experiencing mild symptoms.

“However, the outcome for any one individual who is diagnosed with Covid-19 is uncertain and it remains vital that we all continue to adhere to the public-health advice in order to protect ourselves and our families,” he added.

Antigen tests

Meanwhile, a new plan to tackle rising Covid-19 case numbers will see antigen testing kits offered at a subsidised rate through more retail outlets.

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 Government from 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.

The Government is examining a new plan to make antigen tests more widely available at a subsidised rate from shops, while a new campaign will inform people how to use the tests correctly.

An expert advisory group on rapid testing recommended that individuals who attend restaurants, cinemas, bars and nightclubs, or who participate in contact sports, multi-household visits or car-sharing, should use the tests regularly.



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