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People have taken their “foot off the gas” says Chief Medical Officer

The decline in case numbers has stopped;18 more positive tests were confirmed last evening for Carlow and Kilkenny

The Chief Medical Officer is warning that we need to make up for the time lost over the last week, when the decline of Covid-19 stalled.

Daily case numbers had been declining rapidly during the first three weeks of level 5 restrictions, but this stopped suddenly over the last seven days.

It’s partially because the average number of close contacts a confirmed case has has increased from 2.6 to 3.2.

Dr Tony Holohan says people have taken their “foot off the gas”.

Meanwhile, the head of the Covid-19 modelling advisory group says a target of 100 cases a day by December 1st to ease Level 5 restrictions is not helpful.

Professor Philip Nolan says the lower the spread of the virus, the higher the level of flexibility.

Figures

Officials at the Department of Health have confirmed 18 more cases of Covid-19 in Carlow and Kilkenny among 429 nationally while four more patients are known to have died.

There are nine new positive test results in Kilkenny where the 14-day incidence rate has fallen to 115 per 100,000 just below the national average of 116.5.

Nine more cases have also been confirmed in Carlow which sees the 14-day infection rate rising to 91 from 86 on Wednesday and 83 on Tuesday.

Areas in Co Donegal and north Kerry still have the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the country.

The latest data also reveals two local areas have seen low levels of the virus in the past two weeks.

The 14-day incidence rates in parts of north Donegal remain the highest in the Republic.

Letterkenny now has the most cases per head of population than anywhere else at 389.4, followed by Buncrana at 384.

Listowel in north Co Kerry had the third-highest rate at 373.2.

The map shows solid red over the border into Co Limerick — with 277 cases per hundred thousand in Newcastle West.

There are similar infection rates in Rathkeale and in Limerick City East and West.

However, with a rate of 293.6 per hundred thousand, Waterford’s south city area was the worst affected part of any urban area.

Tallaght South in Dublin had the highest rate in the capital at 251.

Carrigaline has the highest in Cork City at 170.7.

In the two weeks up to Monday, Corca Dhuibhne in west Co Kerry and the Rosslare area in Co Wexford both had five cases or fewer per hundred thousand.

Pubs

Publicans nationwide will turn on their Christmas lights at 5pm in a protest against what they’re calling the “most severe hospitality lockdown in Europe.”

Trade groups say half of the pubs across Ireland have seen just two weeks’ trade in the last 37.

Licenced Vintners’ Association Chief Executive Donal O’Keeffe says bar owners and staff have been “disproportionately” affected by restrictions.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland will go back into a circuit breaker lockdown next week – to stop hospitals being overwhelmed due to Covid-19.

Hairdressers and cafes open today after five weeks of closures – however they will be forced to shutter again next week.

It means the hospitality industry there will be closed for eight weeks.

The DUP backed the extension of measures – despite vetoing restrictions twice last week.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill says it’s become more than clear hospitals are on the brink.

Vaccine

Two Covid-19 vaccines could be cleared for use by European regulators before the New Year.

The EU has already bought 300 million doses of Pfizer and Bio-N-Tech’s jab, while talks are ongoing with Moderna for its vaccine.

Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen says the European Medicines Agency could give initial authorisation as soon as December.

The boss of Pfizer in the UK, which has developed a coronavirus vaccine that’s 95 percent effective, says life will be getting back to normal by the second half of next year.

He says they’re ready to send out doses in England as soon as it’s officially approved.

Meanwhile the jab being developed by Oxford University has had a good response in older adults.