The Department of Health has confirmed 270 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of cases to 65,659.

One further death has occurred from Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,948.

Of the cases notified today, 143 are men and 127 are women, 69% are under 45 years of age.

The median age of today's cases is 34 years old.

The breakdown of today's cases is: 103 in Dublin, 34 in Limerick, 20 in Donegal, 12 in Cork, nine in Kerry, nine in Kilkenny and the remaining 83 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

As of 2pm today, 291 people are in hospital with Covid-19, of which 39 are in ICU. There have been 12 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he is aware of the results from the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial.

He said he is ''hopeful'' that we will see reliable data when it becomes available, because the trial needs regulatory approval.

Dr Cillian de Gascun described news about the vaccine trial as positive, but he cautioned that we do not yet have details about the duration of the protection.

He also said it could be difficult logistically to roll out and that it is not going to be the global solution. However, he said it is a very positive first step.

Asked about Christmas, Dr Holohan said the measures that apply after 1 December will have to be decided closer to the time "depending on where we are".

He said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) wants to continue with Level 5 restrictions for the full six weeks. He said he anticipates giving advice to Government towards the end of the month.

He said everything will depend on the progress being made with the virus.

Asked about concerns over people coming from Denmark where there a novel variant of Covid in mink, Dr Holohan said no decision has been made about that yet and he did not think the same numbers would be travelling here from Denmark as would to the UK.

He said NPHET is waiting for advice on this from the ECDC and it is expected midweek.

Dr de Gascun said one of the concerning elements from Denmark and the Netherlands is that the virus does appear to be developing more quickly in the mink than it does in humans.

Asked if there had been testing for the new Danish variant here, Dr de Gascun said it had not been found among humans here and there are no indications it is here. He said the Department of Agriculture "are going to" do tests on Irish mink farms.

Regarding recent outbreaks of Covid-19 in Ireland, Dr Holohan said there have been outbreaks associated with funerals and that is a cause for concern.

He said there has also been outbreaks associated with healthcare settings and that is a cause for concern.

471 new cases of Covid-19, 10 more deaths in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, 471 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed and a further 10 deaths linked to the illness have occurred.

There are 426 people in hospital with the condition. Of these, 55 patients are in ICU, 43 are being ventilated.

Stormont ministers have requested additional scientific evidence ahead of deciding whether to ease coronavirus restrictions in Northern Ireland.

A four-week circuit break lockdown that has forced the closure of much of the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland is due to end on Thursday.

The latest figures come as the European Union is about to sign a contract for millions of doses of the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

The two companies said their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective, in what could be a major victory in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Commission, which is negotiating with vaccine makers on behalf of EU states, said in September it had concluded exploratory talks with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech over the supply up to 300 million doses of their potential Covid-19 shot.

Testing on mink farms in Kerry, Donegal and Laois is under way as part of enhanced surveillance implemented by the Department of Agriculture in the wake of a variant of Covid-19 being discovered in mink farms in other countries.

The Department of Agriculture has written to the operators of the three mink farms here and has issued advice on biosecurity and other measures to prevent mink here being exposed to a variant of Covid-19.


Read more: 
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New air travel system now in place across EU

A new approach to air travel across Europe has come into operation.

As part of the European Union's traffic light system, countries and regions within those countries, will be categorised as green, orange or red depending on Covid-19 risk levels.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will publish a weekly map determined by the 14-day incidence and positivity rates of the disease.