The Department of Health has confirmed 1,453 new cases of Covid-19 today.

It said 300 patients are being treated in hospital, which is unchanged since yesterday.

There are 60 patients in intensive care, which is down three.

The department said 40 further deaths have been notified in the past week. There has now been a total of 5,249 Covid-related deaths recorded in Ireland.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "The response to Ireland's vaccination programme has been heartening, and now just under 91% of the population aged 16 years and older are fully protected through vaccination.

"Our collective efforts have protected thousands of people from experiencing the worst outcomes from Covid-19.

"Vaccination remains our best means of protection and, if vaccination is available to you, then I strongly encourage you to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible."

In Northern Ireland, 1,320 new Covid cases were reported today, along with two further deaths.

This morning, there were 346 Covid-19 patients in hospital, with 29 in intensive care.

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Covid-19 outbreaks in schools reduce in past week

The number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools reduced significantly last week, compared with the previous week, new figures show.

There were 49 new outbreaks reported in schools in the week to last Saturday, 25 September, compared with 90 outbreaks the previous week.

The 49 outbreaks in schools led to 304 confirmed linked cases, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said.

The breakdown of the 49 outbreaks was: 43 in primary schools, two in post-primary schools and four in special education.

Overall, the number of outbreaks in the country reduced slightly to 189, down nine on the previous week.

A rise in outbreaks in the workplace and nursing homes was recorded. There were 21 workplace outbreaks, with 85 confirmed linked cases. In nursing homes, there were 12 outbreaks, linked to 147 confirmed cases.

An outbreak is reported when there are two or more linked cases.

The positivity rate of Covid-19 in schools has reduced, according to the latest HSE report on mass testing.

In the week to last Saturday, 25 September, the overall positivity rate was 4.6% for primary, post-primary and special education - down 1% on the previous week.

The positivity rate for primary school age children was 4.9% last week, down from 5.8% the previous week.

Of the 6,129 tests under the mass testing programme, 283 cases of Covid-19 were detected, with the vast majority of these in primary schools.

The breakdown of the cases by school sector was: 263 cases in primary, 14 in post-primary 14 cases and six special education cases.

The positivity rate by sector was primary school 4.9%, post-primary 2.2% and special education 5.4%.

All three sectors saw reductions in positivity.

The HSE report has advised that the data published today is not complete for primary and special education facilities.

It represents approximately 85% of the test results "because of the recent delays in the processes"

New figures show that almost 91% of people aged 16 years and older have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

It means that 74% of the total population have been fully vaccinated now, according to the figures published on Twitter, by Professor Brian MacCraith, Chairperson of the High Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination.

Almost 7.2 million doses of vaccine have been administered.

Separately, the largest number of Covid-19 cases were seen in those aged 0-12 years in the two weeks to last Monday, latest figures show.

Of the 18,524 cases reported, 5,103 were in those up to 12 years of age.

The 5-12 year age group represented over 21% of all the cases reported, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

The under-12s are not part of any current vaccination programme in Ireland.

The overall incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland is 389 cases for every 100,000 people.

Sláintecare meeting takes place

A meeting has taken place today between a sub-group of the Sláintecare Implementation Advisory Council and the head of the HSE and the Department of Health.

The in-person meeting was held this afternoon with HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid, and Robert Watt, Secretary General of the Department of Health.

The Sláintecare delegation was reduced in size so that the meeting did not have to be held remotely.

Council members had sought the meeting to discuss the controversy over the reform programme, arising from the recent resignation of two key personnel in the programme.

It has also sought an extension of its term to the end of the year. The current term of office for the council expires on 24 October.

The members of the council who could not attend today's meeting are to be briefed on the outcome of today's discussions over the coming days.