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650 outbreaks in homes in a week fuelling festive worries

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Masked shoppers in the city as outbreaks in homes rise

Masked shoppers in the city as outbreaks in homes rise

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Masked shoppers in the city as outbreaks in homes rise

Private homes remain the main hotspot for Covid-19 transmission, accounting for more than 650 outbreaks last week amid ongoing concern about the impact of Christmas gatherings.

New figures show that while the number of household outbreaks fell from 954 to 652 in the space of a week, people's homes continue to be the scene of high levels of transmission of the virus.

It is expected the figures will mean the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will temper the expected easing of restrictions around gatherings involving different families over Christmas with strong warnings about the risks involved, particularly for vulnerable people.

There were six more Covid-19 related deaths yesterday.

FLEXIBILITY

The number of daily cases of the virus rose slightly, from 226 on Tuesday to 269 yesterday, signalling that the move to drive down the virus could be stalling again and will not reach the 50-100 mark which was seen as allowing for flexibility in the recommendations around December and Christmas.

The lower the number when lockdown is lifted next week, the less chance of a serious escalation in spread which would lead to tougher restrictions being imposed again in January.

Yesterday's cases included 88 in Dublin, 42 in Cork, 25 in Limerick, 20 in Louth and 16 in Donegal.

The remaining 78 were spread across 17 other counties.

There was a fall in the number of people in hospital with the virus, down to 260 from 289 earlier this week.

The number of patients seriously ill in intensive care increased slightly to 36.

Donegal, Louth, Limerick and Waterford continue to have the highest 14-day incidence of the disease.

Counties with the lowest 14-day incidence are Wexford, Kerry and Laois.

The figures for outbreaks last week also show the number in schools almost doubled, up from 10 to 19.

Workplaces and hospitals also saw a number of outbreaks of the virus.

Meanwhile Moderna, one of the companies developing a Covid-19 vaccine, announced it has entered into a deal with the European Commission to provide 80 million doses for member states if it is approved.

Ireland would be entitled to 1pc of these doses over the coming year.

The Commission has also been granted an option to buy an additional 80 million doses.

"We appreciate the confidence the European Commission has demonstrated in our mRNA vaccine platform by including mRNA-1273 in their portfolio of vaccines," said Stephane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna.

"We recognise that tackling this global pandemic will require a number of solutions, and we are proud of the role Moderna has been able to play in this global effort.

"We have scaled up our manufacturing capacity outside of the United States... to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year and possibly up to one billion doses per year beginning in 2021, if approved."

There is growing optimism that the European Medicines Agency will approve the Pfizer vaccine before the end of the year.


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