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Chief Medical Officer says the lower the Covid-19 cases are in the run-up to Christmas, the better

It's as the 14-day incidence rate appears to be lowering locally

The Chief Medical Officer says there’s “nothing inevitable” about a third wave of Covid-19 after Christmas.

New guidelines on how people can socialise over the festive season, while keeping the virus at low levels, are being drawn up by NPHET.

An additional death was confirmed last night with a further 270 cases of the virus, nine of them in Kilkenny & up to four in Carlow, while the estimated 14 day incidence has fallen to 161.

Carlow’s has dropped significantly to 147.5 while Kilkenny’s is at 134.

The current Level 5 measures are due to expire on December 1st, with fears over another spike in cases when restrictions are relaxed.

Dr Tony Holohan says the lower the cases are in the run-up to Christmas, the better.

Meanwhile a leading virologist on KCLR’s The Way It Is urged against the easing of Level 5 Covid restrictions until we’re seeing less than ten cases per day.

Gerry Killeen is AXA Professor of University College Cork & on The Way It Is last evening he said we can learn a lot about the virus from areas like Australia.

And an infectious diseases specialist says the government must change how the country emerges from lockdown to ensure another surge doesn’t happen.

Level 5 restrictions are due to expire in three weeks.

Jack Lambert, professor of medicine and infectious diseases, says we can’t make the same mistakes that were made earlier this year.

The first case of community transmission of Covid-19 in Ireland had 780 contacts.

The person was diagnosed at Cork University Hospital and first presented with symptoms five days before the country registered its first case in Dublin.

The Irish Examiner reports the patient had 780 contacts including family, healthcare workers, other patients and social contacts.

Public Health say all of the person’s contacts were made aware.

Vaccine …

There could be a major breakthrough in the Covid 19 vaccine trials.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says trials show its vaccine is 90% effective and shows no evidence of side effects.

It’s been a difficult year and the hope of a vaccine is what’s been keeping many of us going during Level 5 restrictions.

Now Pfzier says its phase 3 trials with BioNTech show the vaccine they’ve been developing is 90% effective in preventing Covid 19.

Pfizer has described this vaccine trial development as a great day for science and humanity and says it moves us significantly closer to ending this pandemic.

Meanwhile, health officials say it’s still early days in the development of a Covid 19 vaccine – but that the latest news is positive.

The company’s expected to apply for emergency approval for the vaccine later this month.

Dr Cillian de Gascun, from the National Virus Reference Laboratory, says more concrete data is needed to back up the claims.

Northern Ireland …

There have been 471 new cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Another ten people have died with the virus, but one of them took place some time ago.

426 people are in hospital with Covid in the North, with 55 in intensive care.

Both of these figures remain higher than the Republic with hospitals there are still under pressure with patients who have contracted the virus.

The Northern Ireland Executive is to resume talks later on whether Covid-19 restrictions should be extended.

A meeting was adjourned last night after no breakthrough was made.

A four-week circuit-break lockdown which closed the majority of the North’s hospitality sector is due to end on Thursday.