Nine new cases of Covid-19 have been notified in Laois today, half that of Wednesday's figure of 18.
The incidence rate now stands at 278.6 over the 14-day period with the number of cases at 236.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 35 additional deaths related to COVID-19.
21 of these deaths occurred in February, 12 occurred in January, 1 in November, while one further death is under investigation.
The median age of those who died was 85 years and the age range was 53 - 102 years.
There has been a total of 4,271 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.
As of midnight, Wednesday 24th February, the HPSC has been notified of 613 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There is now a total of 217,478 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
Of the cases notified today:
308 are men / 304 are women
66% are under 45 years of age
The median age is 34 years old
224 in Dublin, 39 in Limerick, 37 in Meath, 34 in Westmeath, 33 in Offaly and the remaining 246 cases are spread across all other counties.
As of 8am today, 591 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 138 are in ICU. 20 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
As of February 22, 359,616 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland:
226,291 people have received their first dose
133,325 people have received their second dose
Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “We are making good progress and can see that many of the key indicators of disease levels in our communities are continuing to fall. This progress is the reason we are able to reopen our schools in a cautious and phased basis.”
“However, we must remember that COVID-19 is still circulating at a high level and, we are still seeing positivity rates of around 15% in the community. As we see more of our children return to school next week, it is important that we continue to follow all of the public health guidance, including on the school run.”
“Maintain a social distance at all times, wear a face covering, do not mix with other households other than for essential reasons, wash our hands, and most importantly, ensure that children do not attend school if they display symptoms of COVID-19, as per the HSE website, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell. If you display any of these symptoms, you should self-isolate and phone your GP or GP out-of-hours service to arrange for a test.”
Dr Lucy Jessop, Director, National Immunisation Office, said: “In the last ten days, we have seen Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme move into the community. Many of us know family and friends who are among the almost 360,000 people to have been vaccinated in recent weeks. This is cause for great hope for all of us.”
“The vaccine is already having a significant impact on our healthcare workers. In the last week in January, almost 1,400 healthcare workers contracted COVID-19; that number was less than 300 last week. This is wonderful news and clearly demonstrates the early impact the vaccination programme is having.”
“However, even if you have received your COVID-19 vaccine, you must continue to wash your hands, wear a face covering, maintain a social distance and keep your close contacts to a minimum."
Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “We are making continued and significant progress, albeit more slowly. The reproduction number remains below 1, between 0.6 and 0.9, which is a real achievement given the higher transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant, which accounts for 90% of cases. Our collective efforts to suppress transmission of the virus and bring the disease to manageable levels are having a positive impact. If we continue to work together, we can keep each other safe as the vaccination programme offers wider protection.”
Dr Cillian De Gascun, Medical Virologist and Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory said: “New variants of concern will continue to emerge as COVID-19 adapts to us. This highlights the importance of Ireland’s National Surveillance programme. This week, we will be sequencing 15% of cases at the NVRL.”