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*Photograph: John Mangan

17 new cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Clare among the 1,378 nationally while a further 23 deaths related to the virus are known.

Clare has recorded another drop in the amount of new cases and its 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population with the figure now standing at 663.2.

Of the 23 additional deaths notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre all of them have occurred in the month of January. The median age of those who died is 84 years and the age range is 61-99 years. There has been a total of 2,970 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

An extra 1,378 cases are known. 379 of these are in Dublin, 145 in Cork, 86 in Wexford, 85 in Galway, 71 in Limerick, and the remaining 612 cases are spread across all other counties.

Figures from 2pm on Sunday has highlighted that 218 persons are in critical care, these are included among the 1,931 in hospitals. 44 additional hospitalisations were recorded in the past 24 hours.

Dr Tony Holohan noted that progress is being made in reducing the level of the virus in communities but stressed that it remained “a critical time” to continue to abide by public health advice. “We must not let down our guard against this highly infectious disease and the risk it poses to ourselves and those most medically vulnerable to infection.

“There is a huge volume of disease in the country and the recent surge in cases continues to place an unprecedented strain on ICUs, hospitals and other frontline healthcare services. The answer lies in driving down social contacts and congregation in all settings, including in workplaces. Everyone who can, should work from home where possible. For those of us who cannot work from home, it is essential to follow the public health advice in the workplace, such as the wearing of face coverings when moving around communal areas. We urge all employers to facilitate home working as much as possible and to ensure strict adherence to public health measures in the workplace,” the Chief Medical Officer stated.

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