FOUR further people have passed away with Covid-19 in Ireland.
The Department of Health has also confirmed that 429 new coronavirus cases have been recorded over the past 24-hours.
There has been a total of 2,010 Covid-19 related deaths and 69,473 cases of the killer bug in Ireland.
Validation of data at the HPSC has resulted in the denotification of 14 confirmed cases with the figure of 69,473 reflecting this.
Of today’s cases, 173 are in Dublin, 44 are in Cork, 26 are in Donegal, 22 are in Louth, 21 are in Kildare
The remaining 143 cases are spread across another 20 counties.
Chair of NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan revealed during tonight’s Department of Health briefing that the Covid-19 reproduction number has increased.
It has risen from 0.6 to somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9.
Discussing recent figures, he explained: “In summary, we’ve seen three weeks where we saw very rapid declines in case numbers.
“Then over the last week we have seen that decline stagnate.”
On the R number he said: “We had a reproduction number as low as 0.6.
“The reproduction number has increased from the estimate that we gave last week.
“The remaining estimates give us a reproduction number somewhere between 0.7 and 0.9.”
He added: “A lot depends on what happens over the next few days to a week in terms of whether that reproduction number will reach or go above one.
‘CAUSE FOR CONCERN’
“That increase in the reproduction number is a significant cause for concern.”
Speaking about the reasons for the increase, the professor explained that NPHET are seeing a slight rise in the close contacts of confirmed Covid cases.
He said that from early November “people started to mix more”.
Prof Nolan explained: “Rather than having fewer than three contacts per case as we had up until about the 2nd of November, we’re seeing a little bit more than three on average.
“We’ve gone from 2.6 contacts per case on average to 3.2 contacts per case on average.
“That tiny difference – just one additional contact, perhaps, per day – has been enough to bring the transmission of the virus from very low levels to higher levels.”
Of the cases notified today 194 are men and 234 are women.
69 per cent are under 45 years of age with the median age being 34 years old.
As of 2pm today, 290 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 33 are in ICU.
15 additional hospitalisations have occurred in the past 24 hours.