*Photograph: Joe Buckley
A more rapid increase of COVID-19 has exceeded the expectations of leading health officials following confirmation of 764 new cases, less than five of which are in Co Clare.
Co Clare (26.9) continues to have the second lowest 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population but the national picture represents a more worrying outlook. The country’s 14 day incidence rate has jumped to 112.2.
Health officials have been informed of 764 new cases across the country. 284 are in Dublin, 70 in Limerick, 52 in Donegal, 44 in Cork, 37 in Wexford and the remaining 277 cases are spread across another 20 counties.
An additional four deaths are known, since March 2,158 persons have died from the virus.
Latest hospital figures from 2pm on Sunday detail that 233 individuals are currently hospitalised with COVID-19, 29 of these are in ICU. Over the past 24 hours, 15 hospitalisations were recorded.
“Every indicator of disease severity is moving in the wrong direction, more rapidly than we had anticipated. We have particularly strong concerns about the prospect of inter-generational mixing around the festive season. On 11th December the 7-day incidence rate for people aged 19-44 was 106 per 100,000 population, by yesterday this rate had more than doubled to 217 per 100,000. If these younger people come into contact with their loved ones over the age of 65, we could see a spike in infections in this more vulnerable group. This would lead to very a serious pattern of disease, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and unnecessary deaths,” Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan stated.
He added, “If you have been socialising in the past few weeks or over this weekend, consider your Christmas plans carefully. Is it responsible to meet with your family over 65 later this week, if you have not kept your contacts low? Should you cancel your plans? We have the very real prospect of COVID-19 vaccines on the horizon. Ensure that your loved ones stay alive to receive them, by keeping your distance from them if you have not restricted your movements to this point. As difficult as it may seem, staying away from older family this Christmas will protect them – and it would be an exceptional sacrifice made for the common good”.