Lockdown set to extend into February as daily Covid deaths hit record high

ireland
Lockdown Set To Extend Into February As Daily Covid Deaths Hit Record High Lockdown Set To Extend Into February As Daily Covid Deaths Hit Record High
A Garda stops cars at a checkpoint on the quays in Dublin city centre as the country remains in lockdown. Photo: PA
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The Government looks set to extend Level 5 Covid restrictions into February after Ireland reported a record daily high in confirmed coronavirus deaths.

Cabinet sources said the current restrictions, due to expire on January 31st, will be extended when Ministers meet to review them next week.

While there is no clarity on when exactly restrictions would be lifted, sources told The Irish Examiner it could be a “number of weeks”.

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said infections are still too high for lockdown to ease, but that February 1st “remains the target date” for schools to reopen generally.

“No one expects that there will be a widespread reopening of the economy. We will try to give people as much notice as we possibly can to plan their lives,” he told Newstalk.

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A further 93 coronavirus deaths were confirmed on Tuesday, the highest number of daily deaths since the pandemic began, exceeding a peak of 77 during the first wave last year.

The daily death toll published by the National Public Health Emergency Team can include fatalities that took place weeks ago but were just confirmed to authorities on the day in question.

The high death rate follows a sharp increase in infections in the first 10 days of the year following a relaxation of public-health measures over the Christmas season.

An additional 2,001 new cases of the virus were also reported by the Department of Health.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the country cannot afford to drop its guard against the very high levels of infection that remain in the community.

Dr Holohan said: “Covid-19 ICU and hospitalisation numbers are of critical concern to us, representing a very significant pressure on our healthcare workers and on the provision of acute medical and surgical non-Covid care.

“We need everyone to stay at home, other than for essential reasons.”

AstraZeneca vaccine

Ireland
Ireland’s first vaccine recipient Annie Lynch rece...
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Meanwhile, the European Commission has said that Covid-19 vaccines cannot be delivered before they get regulatory approval, denting Ireland’s hopes of securing early supplies of the AstraZeneca shot.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said last weekend that discussions were under way on securing early deliveries of the vaccine to enable it to be rolled out immediately following regulatory approval.

Asked about the early rollout of the AstraZeneca jab on RTÉ on Tuesday night, Mr Donnelly said that it was an “ambitious ask” to get the supplies in early, and that it would have to be agreed with both the company and the European Commission as “it would have to be done on an EU basis”.

The Irish Times reports that Ministers were told during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday that AstraZeneca has advised the HSE that deliveries of the vaccine can be expected by mid-February, but that firm delivery timetables have not yet been finalised.

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