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Three deaths and 1,283 more Covid-19 cases reported in the Republic

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Three deaths and 1,283 more Covid-19 cases were reported in the Republic this evening, while the North had five deaths and 1,012 more cases.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said there had now been a total of 1,852 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland and a total of 49,962 confirmed cases.

Of the cases notified today, 651 are women and 628 are men, with 68 per cent 45 years of age. The median age is 31 years.

Dublin accounts for 408 of the new cases, while 156 are in Cork, 88 in Kildare, 80 in Meath and 55 in Limerick. The remaining 496 cases are spread across 21 counties.

As of 2pm today, 277 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, and 33 of those patients were in ICU. There have been 17 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Meanwhile, a leading advisor in public health policy has warned that Ireland needs “strong suppression” of Covid-19 for eight to 10 weeks to bring it under control, save lives and stop the health service from “falling on its face”.

Anthony Staines, professor of community health at DCU, said he believed the public would accept restrictions nearly as severe as the March lockdown over a 10-week period if they were given “strong leadership”, a clear explanation of why they were necessary and a clear exit strategy.

He told The Irish Times the restrictions would have to be part of a new three- pronged approach to tackling the virus. This would include severe restrictions on movement of people, but also a major increase in testing to about 200,000 rapid tests a week, and significantly increased emphasis on mask-wearing.

He said a lockdown on its own was not going to achieve elimination of the virus, because “when people come out again the numbers would go up”.

If the virus was allowed to spread, “a lot of people would get sick and a lot of people would die and many people would get serious long-term affects”.

He said even the Conservative party in England, “not exactly the core of intellectual power in the world”, had accepted that serial, limited lockdowns were not going to deal with the problem. “They are looking for a way out of what we are doing at the moment.”

He praised the situation in Australia, where very severe restrictions on public movement, airport testing and mandatory face masks were introduced. He said people in the Australian state of Victoria, in particular, had been “very brave in terms of biting the bullet to nail this virus”.

Speaking earlier on Sunday on RTÉ Radio One, Prof Staines said: “One of my colleagues from Australia has just tweeted a few hours ago: ‘Numbers in Victoria, one case today, two from yesterday, down from 500 to 800 a couple of months ago. A small few countries leading while most of the world dithers clinging to a recurring lockdown strategy’.”

Prof Staines said he believed such a strategy would be accepted here even in the run-up to Christmas.

He said evidence from opinion polls which he said the Department of Health had been doing for a number of months showed there was at least quite significant public support for more restrictions. “I think the population get it.”

“Whatever happens, the strategy is going to be bringing the numbers of cases down because I can assure you the Irish health service is unable to cope with what is happening now and will be happening.”

He said restrictions aimed at bringing the numbers of cases of the virus to near zero or even single figures “would take a minimum of eight to 10 weeks, I am just being honest”.

“If there is clear political leadership people will do it”, and the country could “begin to restore the economy”, he said.

Prof Staines said what politicians needed to do was to“say we are doing it to save lives, stop the health service falling flat on its face, and to begin to restore the economy”.

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