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*Photograph: Joe Buckley

Clare continues to have the lowest spread of COVID-19 in the country while leading health officials have warned that the virus is moving quickly among all age-groups in the Republic of Ireland.

Less than five new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Co Clare as per Thursday’s update. The county continues to have the lowest 14 day incidence rate per 100k of the population with the figure at 25.2 compared with the national equivalent of 94.2.

A total of 448 new cases and three further deaths are known in the Republic of Ireland, the Department of Health stated on Thursday.

Speaking on Thursday, the Taoiseach confirmed that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended to the Government that relaxed COVID-19 restrictions be shortened

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said hat NPHET will be recommending restrictions to hospitality before the end of the year, “so concerned are they in relation to the rising numbers, and also restricting household visits to one before the end of the year, that’s one household could visit another.”

He outlined that the Government are taking the advice “very seriously”. Cabinet are set to make a decision when it meets on Tuesday.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan stated, “The virus is moving quickly throughout the country, in all age groups”.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) told the Dáil on Thursday that the estimated rate of COVID-19 transmission (the R number) is now between 1.1 and 1.3, last week it was in the region of 0.9 and 1. He described the situation as “precarious” following a “long and sobering” discussion with Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan today.

Restrictions on household visits and travel around the country are to be eased tomorrow, with people being allowed to travel outside their county until 6 January. Up to three households will also be able to gather indoors.

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