There have been 234 more cases of coronavirus confirmed in the State, including 103 in Dublin, and two further deaths, according to the latest figures.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) confirmed the latest figures in a statement on Wednesday evening. The new cases bring the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the State to 33,675, while the death toll from Covid-19 here now stands at 1,794.
Sixty-eight per cent of the new cases involve people aged under 45, while 34 of the cases have been identified as the result of community transmission, meaning the source of infection is unknown.
As well as the 103 cases in Dublin, 30 new cases were identified in Co Donegal, 22 in Co Galway, 21 in Co Cork, 13 in Co Wicklow, 12 in Co Louth, nine in Co Kildare, and eight in Co Meath.
Responding to the latest figures, Prof Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “If we are starting to suppress the virus again, it is essential that we maintain this effort: limit our social contacts, limit mixing between households. The next 10 days are critical.”
Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer, echoed those comments, saying: “The single most important thing that people all across the country need to do now is to reduce their social contacts.
“We all need to cut down on discretionary social activities. Meeting fewer people means fewer opportunities for the virus to transmit. Please prioritise who you choose to meet and try to keep your social network as small as possible.”
HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said: “Earlier in this pandemic, we succeeded in flattening the curve through a common purpose and solidarity. Now, we face the more difficult task of suppressing the virus again while trying to protect education and healthcare settings.”
Earlier, it emerged the 14-day incidence rate of coronavirus infections across Dublin has fallen for the first time in two weeks, according to the latest figures published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
The rate of Covid-19 infections over the period fell marginally in Dublin, from 138 cases per 100,000 at midnight on Sunday to 136.9 at midnight on Monday – three days after the new Level 3 restrictions were introduced in the county, while the rest of the country remained on Level 2.
This is the first time that the infection rate in Dublin has fallen since September 8th.
Within Dublin, the incidence rate of the disease fell below the 200 cases per 100,000 mark in Dublin North West, declining to 196.9 case from 204.7 in the 24-hour period.
Likewise, the rate in Dublin South East fell to 143.9 cases per 100,000 from 150.4. The rate in Dublin West continued to rise, however, increasing to 148.1 cases per 100,000 from 140.3.
While the incidence rate in Dublin declined slightly in the latest figures, the national average continues to rise, reflecting an increase in the infections outside the capital.
The national rate of infections over the past 14 days stood at 70.7 cases per 100,000, up from 70.4 for 24 hours earlier.
Infectious diseases expert Professor Sam McConkey highlighted the importance of people following the public health advice, saying that if cases continued to rise Dublin could need to go to Level 4 or even Level 5
Prof McConkey, who is head of the Department of International Health and Tropical Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), said this was the time to take action.
“The earlier we do it, the less duration and the less restrictive those measures will have to be,” he told Newstalk.
The rate of Covid-19 cases had gone up in four or five counties to almost the same level as Dublin and action was required now, he added.
“Unfortunately, if the number of cases continues to rise, whether in Dublin or in those counties, then unfortunately the only sensible thing to do is to go up to Level 4 or even Level 5.”