Republic of Ireland's 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 continues to decline
The Republic of Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 has dropped again, new figures show.
Data collected by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows that the national incidence of confirmed cases per 100,000 population now stands at 491.9.
The data published today shows the pattern of Covid-19 cases in the two weeks leading up to September 2.
The incidence rate in the two weeks before that stood at 523.3 cases for every 100,000 people.
The highest incidence rate remains in Donegal and Monaghan, with 1,185 cases and 1.498 cases respectively.
The total number of confirmed cases in the last two weeks was 23,422, with a median age of two years.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 is now 351.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the impact of the vaccination programme continues to be seen across the population.
“The downward trends in Covid-19 infections is now also very evident in younger age groups as they come forward for vaccinations and also adhere to the general measures to keep each other safe,” Mr Donnelly tweeted.
“It is thanks to the collective efforts of everyone that we are on a pathway out of this pandemic and we can progress towards the full reopening of society.
“We can see this progress with further reopening today.
“But as we continue vaccinations and as we reopen we also need to continue to be safe and to mind each other. Covid-19 hasn’t gone away.
“The 14-day incidence rates for those aged between 35-44 is similar to that of those aged over 85.
“Forty four per cent of all hospitalisations of cases notified in August were amongst those aged under 50.
“We can continue to break the chains of transmission, through vaccination and doing the things we have become so used to, washing hands, mask-wearing and being careful. Stay safe.”
The chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid said that another 9,5000 people used walk-in vaccination centres over the weekend.
“Positively, over 50% of these were in the 12 to 15 age groups,” he said.
“The walk-in centres have proven to provide a very flexible option for all age groups.”
It comes as there was a major easing of Covid-19 restrictions today, with live music returning and larger crowds allowed at indoor venues.
The Republic's government confirmed last week that it would be embarking on a phased easing of Covid-19 restrictions, which will eventually see the removal of the vast majority of public health regulations by the end of October.
The numbers permitted to attend outdoor sports events increased from today, while restrictions on indoor venues were eased, with larger crowds allowed.
Indoor venues can use up to 60% of capacity when holding events for people who are double jabbed.
For outdoor events, 75% of capacity is available for vaccinated individuals.
Live music at weddings has also returned, with the number of people allowed to attend fixed at 100.
All religious ceremonies are allowed to proceed with 50% of venue capacity regardless of the immunity status of those there.
Politicians and health officials are banking on the country’s high rates of vaccine take-up as the relaxing of restrictions continues.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Saturday that the Republic should “take some heart” from early indications that rates of Covid-19 in the Republic may be declining.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Monday was a "key milestone" in the Government's plan to reopen society and economy.
"With higher thresholds now for the opening of mass gatherings indoors and outdoors, religious ceremonies, you combine that with the 100% public transport, I think we obviously need to be vigilant," he said on Monday.
"But it's a good day, in terms of that gradual reopening of society. Then September 20 will be the next important milestone and then October 20.
"The economy is coming back in tandem and parallel with the reopening of society and the lifting of restrictions.
"The signals and the figures are very good now, in terms of the bounce back in our economy.
"We have to try and sustain that.
After visiting University College Cork, he said it was good to see colleges and universities have plans to bring back large numbers to campuses.
"To bring some degree of normality back to third level education, as again part of the wider reopening of our society," he added.
The Government also announced last week that a phased return to workplaces is to begin from September 20.
Mr Martin acknowledged that a return to office-based work will be "challenging" for some workers.
"People have reacted differently to the pandemic," he added.
"From a psychological perspective, we need to provide supports. Employers need to provide supports, there needs to be understanding.
"However, some people will be only too delighted to get back to the office and to get back to normality. Others will find it a bit more difficult and we have to respect that.
"That is why we've called for a gradual return to the offices and to the workplace. The feedback we're getting from business and from industry more generally, is that that's what actually will happen.
"There won't be a rush on day one, there won't be everybody coming back on day one. So I think that's important as well."