An unscheduled Cabinet meeting will get underway this afternoon to discuss tougher measures to tackle spiralling Covid19 case numbers.
1,546 new infections were recorded yesterday the highest since the outbreak began, 19 of these were in Kilkenny with five more in Carlow.
There were 411 people in hospital 75% more than just over a week ago.
19 of these are in St Luke’s General for Carlow and Kilkenny after four new admissions, with four people still in critical care there while two more are suspected of having the virus.
NPHET who have called for stricter measures will also meet this morning while the HSE is due to call a press conference.
Under the current Level 5 restrictions, non-essential retail and gyms are still open while visitors from just one other household are permitted
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said there was little doubt tougher restrictions would be considered.
HSE boss Paul Reid says it’s essential that people urgently reduce their levels of contact to tackle the spread of Covid 19.
It’s as the rollout of the first batch of Pfizer vaccines is continuing at hospitals across Dublin, Cork and Galway.
But Paul Reid says the levels of community transmission are ‘gravely concerning’.
The nation’s 14-day incidence rate now stands at 245.6 per 100,000 population.
Both Kilkenny and Carlow have fallen in the table though, Kilkenny now eighth-highest with a rate of 268.1 while Carlow’s now thirteenth at 210.8 after 266 and 120 positive tests were returned in each county, respectively, in the fortnight to midnight on Monday, December 28.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine has been approved for use in the UK.
It’s the second jab to get the go-ahead in Britain and will be rolled out from January 4.
Results from clinical trials show that it is up to 90% effective in preventing Covid19 and unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it doesn’t need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures.
GP Vinesh Patel says it’s a game-changer while British Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, says it means there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
US president-elect Joe Biden has criticised the outgoing Trump administration by saying the coronavirus vaccine isn’t being distributed fast enough.
He’s also warned people “things will get worse before they get better”.
Mr Biden says the current rate of jabs is falling behind Donald Trump’s targets.
Meanwhile, the new variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK has now reached the US.
Authorities in Colorado say they’ve discovered the strain in a man in his 20s.
He hasn’t traveled recently and no close contacts have yet been identified.
The man remains in isolation, and contact tracing continues.
The World Health Organization has said that while the variant may spread more easily, it isn’t necessarily more dangerous or deadly.