The proportion of daily cases among healthcare workers and the over-65s has dramatically fallen as the vaccine programme is rolled out, new research shows.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) shows that the percentage of cases among over-65s fell from 18 per cent in January to nine per cent in March.
The research also shows that the lowest number of cases was recorded among healthcare workers since last August, at 88 cases.
The CSO uses epidemiological dates for cases and actual date of death, not the reported dates, which gives a clearer indication of when infections and deaths take place.
— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) March 26, 2021
One of the trends identified by the CSO is that while the number of cases has plateaued as Ireland emerges from the third wave of the pandemic, the composition of these cases has changed considerably.
Research shows that in the week ending January 29th, 18 per cent of the positive cases in that week were among those aged 65 or over.
In the week ending March 19th, the proportion of cases attributable to the over-65s had fallen to nine per cent.
A similar fall can be seen in the incidence of Covid-19 among healthcare workers, from 1,253 cases in the week ending January 29th, to just 88 cases in the week ending March 19th.
The impact of this change in composition can be seen in decreases in hospital and intensive care admissions, and in deaths related to Covid-19.
Last week, 38 deaths were recorded among confirmed Covid-19 cases. Some 87 per cent of deaths were in people aged 65 years and over.
There were 14 deaths in Dublin, while no other counties recorded more than five deaths in the week.
In the same period, the number of weekly cases was 3,174, a decrease of nine per cent from the previous week. Those aged 25 to 44 made up 35 per cent of confirmed cases, with those aged 65 and over making up eight per cent.
Dublin accounted for under a half of all new cases and it was the eleventh week in a row that weekly cases in Dublin have fallen. Meath was the county with the second highest number of new cases, at 190.
It is the fifth week in a row that Leitrim recorded less than 25 new cases, the second week in a row that Kilkenny and Monaghan have recorded less than 25 new cases and the first such week for Mayo and Clare.
The data shows that although the number of new cases has fallen nationally by nine per cent, this varies across counties from a 65 per cent decrease in Mayo to a 63 per cent increase in Laois.
The average number of contacts per positive case per week was three, down from five contacts per case in January.
This implies details of more than 9,000 close contacts were recorded in the week.
The average number of contacts range from two contacts per case in Carlow to almost four per case in Dublin.
In the last four weeks, 4,618 cases have been linked to an outbreak and of these 256 were in nursing homes, 216 were in hospital or a community hospital/long-stay unit and 400 were in residential institutions.
There were 1,533 cases linked to an outbreak in private houses and 661 cases linked to an outbreak in the workplace in the last four weeks.
Increase in test referrals
There were 68,836 referrals for community testing. Referrals for testing increased in the last week and there was an increase of 60 per cent, from 6,818 to 10,847, in referrals among the birth to 14 age group.
Analysis on referral speciality type shows that general contact testing and at risk groups has fallen by 1,220 and healthcare and essential worker testing has increased by 3,208.
Weekly testing numbers from HSE labs and hospitals show there were 93,976 tests completed last week.
The positivity rate was 3.9 per cent, up from 3.7 per cent the previous week.