Measures are working, but more time needed to suppress virus

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions are working, but we need to keep them in place for longer to suppress the spread of the coronavirus.

He said we don't need to focus on new measures, but to keep the focus on the measures we know work.

The new strain of the virus is more transmissible, he said, but it doesn't have new ways of transmitting, so the existing measures are sufficient if they are properly observed.

R number falls below 1

Chair of the Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan said the R number is now below one.

The R number refers to the reproductive rate of the virus - if it is at one, that means each person testing positive passes the virus to one other person.

With an R number below one, the overall infection rates will fall.

Numbers in hospital expected to begin slowly falling

Prof Nolan said the numbers of people in hospital seem to have peaked, or at least plateaued.

However, he said it will take a long time for numbers to fall from the peak

Positive trends, but numbers remain very high

While the numbers now appear to be moving in the right direction, Prof Nolan cautioned that infection rates are still extremely high.

He noted that just a few months ago numbers 10% of current daily case rates would have seemed worryingly high.

More than half of cases in people under 45

Setting out the latest data, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that 57% of cases over the past 14 days were in people aged under 45.

The median age of the cases was 40, and the mean age 42.

There have been 532 deaths associated with Covid-19 in January, compared to 174 in December, and 164 in November.