The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again today amid rising concerns that the progress in tackling Covid-19 nationally appears to have slowed significantly over the past week.

The latest numbers show that new confirmed cases of the virus are running at just over 400 per week, broadly unchanged on the situation one week ago.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he is becoming increasingly concerned that the progress made during the first three weeks of the Level 5 restrictions has not been maintained.

It is not clear why the progress on reducing the incidence of Covid-19 has stalled, but the average number of daily cases has fallen by just eight per day over the past week, compared with reductions averaging between 200 and 300 per day during the first three weeks of Level 5 restrictions.

There has also been a very large increase in the number of outbreaks or clusters in private houses, with 954 such clusters in the last week, up from 443 the previous week.

Getting to the bottom of why this has happened and doing something about it will be very high on the agenda when NPHET meets today.

There are still two weeks to go before the planned removal of Level 5 restrictions, but unless progress in reducing the disease incidence can be rapidly restarted, it could put that plan at risk.

Yesterday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the fact that just over 2,000 people have now died from Covid-19 in Ireland is a sad and sobering milestone.

The total number of Covid-19 related deaths stands at 2,006, with 69,058 confirmed cases.


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Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told his party colleagues that people will be able to have an enjoyable, safe and meaningful Christmas.

Mr Martin said that the Government will make a decision next week on how the country will exit Level 5 restrictions in early December.

A specialist in infectious diseases said if the country enters December with rates of infection at lower levels, it will make control of the coronavirus easier in future and allow more areas of society to reopen.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Professor Sam McConkey said there are around 100 outbreaks a day at the moment, and unless Ireland returns to very low levels it is hard to see indoor dining and wet pubs reopening.

He said the increased rate of infection levels appears to be linked to socialising over Halloween. 

However, if the case numbers fall then non-essential retail could reopen with strict adherence to public health guidelines, he said.

Prof McConkey said he is optimistic that several new tools will come into play next year which will help to better control the spread of Covid-19 and that this must involve building a world class public health system with IT units that can identify and control outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Dublin Airport's first Covid-19 test facility opened this morning.

The privately-run drive-through test centre is available to all consumers, whether they are travelling or require a test for another reason.

Another walk-through testing facility is to open at the airport next Monday.

Dublin Airport has come under pressure to provide testing services as Ireland moves into the EU's traffic light system for international travel.