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WHO warns of Covid-19 fourth wave danger but says Ireland has rapidly improved after last month’s peak

The organisation's special envoy on Covid-19 says the Irish recovery from the third wave has been strong and dramatic

The WHO says Ireland’s recovery from the third wave of Covid-19 has been ‘strong and dramatic’, but is warning of the danger of a fourth wave.

Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s special envoy on Covid-19, says Ireland has rapidly improved after last month’s peak.

68 additional deaths were confirmed here last evening with 556 new cases, eight in Carlow with six in Kilkenny.

Nationally, it was the lowest number of cases in over seven weeks, and there were nearly 7,000 this day last month.

The 14-day incidence rate is now at 319.0. Carlow’s remains higher than that, the county having the country’s second-highest at 451.4 while Kilkenny’s 148.1 is the third-lowest.

Hospitals

The number of patients with Covid-19 in public hospitals fell to 1,012 last night.

178 people are in ICU with the virus, which is down 16% on two weeks ago, however is much higher than the first wave peak of 155 in April.

Alan Gaffney is the vice-president of the Intensive Care Society, he says units are still extremely busy.

St Luke’s General Hospital for Carlow and Kilkenny had nine patients with the virus last night, four of them in intensive care, after no new admissions in the 24 hours to 8pm and no further suspected cases at the facility.

While four additions to University Hospital Waterford bring to 63 the number of people with Coronavirus there, seven of them in ICU and four others showing symptoms.

Travel

The T├ínaiste has described some of the UK’s new travel restrictions as extreme.

Under the plans, people could face 10 years in prison for lying on their passenger locator forms.

The UK is also introducing mandatory hotel quarantine for people arriving in England from more than 30 countries.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says some of the measures go further than they would in Ireland.

Meanwhile, new legislation on quarantine hotels here is expected to be published next week, and become operational soon after.

The Government is looking at making it mandatory for arrivals from South Africa, Brazil or anyone without a negative PCR test to isolate in the facilities for 14 days.

Sinn Fein health spokesperson, David Cullinane, says the legislation needs to be robust.

Lifting Lockdown

Personal services like hairdressers won’t be allowed to reopen at the beginning of March, according to the Government.

A new plan for living with Covid-19 and how society can reopen is to be published later this month.

President of the Irish Hairdressers Federation, Danielle Kennedy, says it’s frustrating.

Schools

Final preparations are being made for the partial return of special education this week.

Special schools will reopen tomorrow, after being closed since Christmas.

There will be increased health and safety measures, including the use of PPE, and attendances will be limited to 50% of capacity.

Variant

Another Covid-19 “variant of concern” has emerged in southern England.

There have been 21 cases of this version of the virus, which scientists fear may “evade immunity”.

Infectious disease expert in the UK Professor Neil Ferguson says it may mean longer lockdowns.

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