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Ireland now ranks among best in Europe with low spread of virus

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Face masks on The Meeting Place sculpture on Dublin’s Liffey Street

Face masks on The Meeting Place sculpture on Dublin’s Liffey Street

Face masks on The Meeting Place sculpture on Dublin’s Liffey Street

Ireland now ranks as one of the best performers in a European table for having the lowest incidence of Covid-19 in recent weeks - with countries like Finland and Greece leading the way.

Countries are now measured on how well they are doing every two weeks, and the most recent 14-day incidence for Ireland was 2.9 per 100,000.

This compared to Finland at 1.8 per 100,000 and Greece at 2.4 per 100,000.

The table relating to June 30, which was compiled by the European Centre for Disease Control, also shows Cyprus, Estonia, Slovakia, Liechtenstein and Hungary doing well in suppressing the virus.

The news comes as another death from the virus was announced yesterday, bringing the toll to 1,742 so far.

There were 24 more people newly diagnosed with the virus.

It means 25,538 have tested positive since the start of the pandemic.

The so-called "green list" of countries due on July 20 - where Irish tourists can travel quarantine-free on arrival and return home - will be chosen partly on their 14-day incidence of the virus.

However, this can change dramatically in the course of a few days if a large outbreak strikes.

The table shows the incidence in the UK last week was 22.7 per 100,000 and it was 10.3 per 100,000 in France.

Spain's incidence at that point was 9.9 per 100,000 but in recent days its Catalonia region locked down a county of more than 400,000 people following a surge in the coronavirus .

The western Catalan city of Lleida and the rest of Segria county were put under lockdown from noon on Saturday.

A second Spanish region made up of 70,000 people is also returning to lockdown after a new coronavirus outbreak.

Entry into and out of La Marina, which lies 145km east of La Coruna, in Galicia, is banned and gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted to try and limit the possibility of infection.

Home

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed the Department of Foreign Affairs advised and assisted more than 8,000 people, across five continents, to return home during the pandemic.

"We cannot forget that this has been an extremely stressful time for our citizens at home and abroad," he said.

"Our consular team at home and our network of embassies and consulates around the world have worked continuously throughout the crisis to provide our citizens with information and assistance in this unprecedented global situation.

"Advice and assistance was provided in relation to commercial flights wherever these were available, for flights chartered by the EU and other partners where possible or, in a few exceptional cases, for flights we chartered directly ourselves."

He said these figures represented a "mammoth amount of work" by our consular and embassy networks.

In some cases, this work remains ongoing as citizens continue to find themselves in difficulty abroad.

"It is important to remember that the Covid-19 pandemic continues to accelerate internationally, and there are significant risks associated with international travel," he added.

"Anyone who chooses to travel abroad in these circumstances, in full knowledge of the risks, including to their own health and to public health in Ireland upon their return, as well as potential lockdowns and other restrictions overseas, should be aware of the limitations of any consular assistance that might be provided."

Roadmap

For the moment, the Government continues to advise against all non-essential travel overseas.

"This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland," Mr Coveney added.

"This advice is kept under review and will be updated in line with any further decisions on the roadmap for the resumption of safe international travel."

There were no coronavirus-related deaths reported in Northern Ireland yesterday.

The total number of fatalities remains at 554.

Five new cases of coronavirus were diagnosed .

So far, 5,761 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the North since the start of the pandemic.

In the last seven days, 26 people have tested positive for the virus, according to the North's Department of Health.