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Health Minister to appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee today as up to 12 new Covid-19 cases are recorded in Carlow & Kilkenny

They're among the latest 322 positive tests, the lowest daily figure for over a month

The Health Minister will endure a grilling on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic before the Oireachtas Health Committee later today.

Stephen Donnelly will provide an update on HSE recruitment, the winter response to the virus and mental health.

While a member of the committee is concerned about ICU capacity, with 43 people in critical care with the disease last night.

Deputy Gino Kenny says the Government must make sure there’s room for patients who need critical care.

Last evening we learned that five more people have died across the country & there were 322 new cases of the virus detected, the lowest daily figure in more than five weeks, with eight in Kilkenny and four or less in Carlow.

Incidence Rate …

The estimated 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 nationally has fallen by over a quarter since its peak on October 25th.

It now stands at 228 – with Cavan remaining the county with the highest rate at 475, followed by Meath at 380 and Westmeath at 306. Carlow’s in the top ten with a rate of 252.9.

While Kilkenny’s in the bottom five with 134.  Wicklow at 106 and Leitrim at 84 are the counties with the lowest incidence rates.

Travel …

A timeframe for the introduction of Covid-19 testing at airports is expected to be revealed later.

Minister Eamonn Ryan will appear before the Transport Committee to answer questions on the plan.

He’ll also be quizzed on the arrangements being made to implement the new EU traffic light system for international travel on Sunday.

Sinn Fein transport spokesperson and committee member, Darren O’Rourke, says a testing system for arrivals is badly needed.

Hairdressers …

The former head of the HSE says hairdressers should be allowed reopen during Level 5.

Tony O’Brien says they are among the businesses which have shown they can operated safely during the pandemic and he believes they should be allowed to resume trading.

Elsewhere …

A further 397 people in the UK have died within 28 days of testing positive for coronavirus.

That compares to 136 announced on Monday, but figures are often up on a Tuesday due to delays reporting them over the weekend.

More than 20,000 new confirmed cases have been recorded there within 24 hours.

Meanwhile, England’s second Covid-19 lockdown will be debated, and voted on, by MPs in the House of Commons today.

It kicks in tomorrow, and will last for a month.

Some Conservative MPs have publicly said they won’t be backing it.

Chief medical officer for England, Professor Chris Whitty, was challenged about the case for tighter restrictions yesterday.

He believes tougher measures have already helped to drive the infection rate down.