55 more deaths from COVID, 827 new cases

First doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrive
  • Deborah Condon

A further 55 deaths from COVID-19 have been confirmed in the Republic, as well as 827 more cases of the virus.

This brings the total number of deaths here to 3,674 and the total number of cases to 202,548.

Of the 55 additional deaths, the median age of those who died was 86 years and the age range was 49-100.

Of the 827 cases, 297 occurred in Dublin, 76 in Cork, 56 in Galway, 46 in Wexford and 37 in Kildare. The median age of those affected was 38 years.

As of 2pm on Saturday, there were 1,177 patients with confirmed COVID-19 in hospital, 177 of whom were in ICU. There had been an additional 29 hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

According to the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, there are a number of "old habits that collectively we have to break in order to suppress COVID-19 together".

"We know that people who feel unwell typically avoid calling their GP over the weekend, and wait to see if they improve. You should no longer do that - you must phone your GP at the first sign of anything like COVID-19 symptoms. Do not adopt a ‘wait and see' approach," he explained.

He also reminded people not to leave their homes or go to work if they have any cold or flu-like symptoms at all.

"Breaking these habits will limit COVID-19's opportunity to spread from person to person," he added.

Earlier on Saturday, the first 21,600 doses of the AstraZenaca vaccine arrived in Ireland. The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, tweeted that these first does would be "given to healthcare workers on Monday".

Meanwhile, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have agreed a programme for the administration of vaccines to people over the age of 70.

The AstraZeneca vaccine was originally earmarked for this. However, a different plan had to be developed after the National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommended that people over the age of 70 should receive the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as there was not enough data on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in older people.

This made the rollout to this population more difficult as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are more difficult to store and transport. They must be used within five days of leaving the deep freeze storage facility where they are being stored in Dublin.

However, as part of the HSE/IMO programme, it is envisaged that most older people will still get their vaccine from their own GP. For smaller GP practices that do not have as many older people on their books, GP-run vaccination clinics will be established in large urban areas.

For smaller GP practices outside of Dublin, Cork and Galway, they will be able to team up with larger GP practices to offer vaccination.

Phase one of this rollout to the over-70s, which will target people over the age of 85, is due to begin on February 15.

More information on the latest figures in relation to COVID-19, including the number of people vaccinated so far, is available here.

 


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