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Six more deaths as virus has 'moved from cities into towns'

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Health chief Dr Tony Holohan

Health chief Dr Tony Holohan

Colin Keegan

Health chief Dr Tony Holohan

Covid-19 has moved out of cities and into Ireland's towns in recent weeks, it emerged yesterday.

The number of deaths in Dublin from the coronavirus hit its peak in the week ending April 10, while most other counties recorded their highest numbers of deaths from the virus the following week.

The number of people contracting Covid-19 in cities has fallen while it has increased in towns.

People living in urban towns now account for 12pc of cases, up from 5pc in the week ending March 20, the Central Statistics Office revealed yesterday.

More than half of the deaths have been in Dublin, but there is a significant number of counties where there have been fewer than 10 deaths since the crisis began.

Most of the country had the peak number of cases in mid- April, but it was later in Cavan and Monaghan.

Roscommon has seen a significant decrease in cases only in the past week, reflecting the move out of the cities and into urban towns.

The picture emerged as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan announced a further six deaths from the virus yesterday, bringing the total to 1,645.

Thirty-nine new cases of the virus were diagnosed, bringing the level of infections to 24,876.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet next week to decide whether phase two of the exit from lockdown should go ahead.

Dr Holohan signalled that new guidelines will include some additional allowances for children's activities. It is understood this may allow summer camps.

Asked if people should continue to keep the 5km distance limit this weekend, Dr Holohan said it should continue to be adhered to because the advice remained to stay at home, although people could avail of limited meetings with groups of up to four people outdoors.

The advice is to "keep a record" of people you meet this weekend in case they have to be contacted for testing in the event of a positive case.

Congregating

Dr Holohan said he had observed people congregating on parts of the canal route in south Dublin as he cycles home.

Individual behaviour would determine if the virus continued to be suppressed, he said.

Asked about parents being apprehensive about sending children back to childcare facilities, he said that based on new guidelines on "pods", the matter was one of "calculated" risk.

He has taken assurance from other countries where childcare facilities and schools have resumed, and is encouraged by the news that this has not led to any increase in transmission of the disease.

"They give us an assurance that at this point we can take this step," he said.

"As we approach the last week of phase one, it is encouraging to see intensive care and hospital admissions declining, the number of new cases remaining stable and a 90pc recovery rate in the community.

"Moving into next week, I would urge everyone to look back at the progress we have made over the past number of weeks and maintain our efforts to suppress Covid-19 into the future."

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "Over the bank holiday weekend we encourage everyone to enjoy the warm weather within recommended guidelines.

"Public health advice currently recommends outdoor meetings of up to four people outside of your household, at a physical distance of two metres and within 5km of your home."

People should maintain physical distancing from vulnerable groups while exercising.