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*Photograph: John Mangan

A total of 772 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, 14 of which are in Co Clare.

Leading health officials have observed an improvement regarding the spread of the virus across the country but stressed that it is “very early days”.

For the first time in three months, “positive news” regarding the suppression of COVID-19 has been witnessed, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group confirmed. He said this was testament to the efforts across the country but highlighted that it must continue.

Clare Echo Planning

Professor Nolan continued, “The reproduction number is now close to 1.0 nationally. This is the first time in a number of weeks that we have been able to report positive indicators of the disease. However, our experience to date shows this type of progress is very fragile. We should take these positive signs as an indication our efforts are starting to work, the critical thing now is to keep it up, the virus will seek out any opportunity to spread; over the next weeks let’s make sure we don’t give it that opportunity, by driving R and case numbers as low as possible.”

Geographic detail on the 772 new cases in the country detail that 228 are in Dublin, 120 in Cork, 50 in Meath, 41 in Donegal, 41 in Galway, 14 in Clare and the remaining 278 cases are spread across all remaining counties.

Following confirmation of 14 new cases in Clare, it leaves the 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population of the county (255.9) below the national rate (287.1).

An additional six deaths have been notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre leaving the national death toll at 1,908.

Latest figures from Irish hospitals as of 2pm show that 325 persons are being treated in hospitals, with 42 of that figure in ICUs. 15 hospitalisations occurred in the past 24 hours. “Ireland’s hospitals are currently stable and currently safe,” Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry commented.

He added, “There has been a significant reduction in emergency presentations and admission in recent weeks, when compared with activity last year. Our Emergency Departments have in place pathways of care to keep patients and staff safe. If you need urgent or emergency care in our hospitals, this care can be provided safely.”

There has been a reduction in the seven day incidence rate of 36 percent when compared to the previous seven days, Dr. Desmond Hickey, Deputy Chief Medical Officer said. “Ireland’s progress is notable when compared to the rapidly deteriorating picture across Europe. It is paramount that we sustain and continue to drive down disease incidence as much as possible in the coming weeks”.

Dr Hickey flagged that an increase in mortality this month has been experienced with Professor Nolan remarking that it is expected 100 people will have died from the virus in October, “it will take some time for mortality to decrease,” he said.

Speaking on Friday, Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer stated, “The overall situation has improved, but we have to remember that these are very early days. This improvement will only be maintained if we keep going in our efforts. We have to remember that incidence is increasing in older age groups, who are particularly vulnerable to this disease. The way in which we can protect them is if we continue to drive down transmission across the whole population.”

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