The Department of Health has been notified of 35 further coronavirus-related deaths and 1,047 new cases. 

The number of people in ICU is down seven to 181.

Of the deaths notified today, 29 occurred in February and six in January.

The median age of those who died is 84, and the age range is 63 to 96 years.

As of 2pm this afternoon, there are 1,221 patients with Covid-19 in hospital, of which 181 are in ICU.

There were 51 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The regional breakdown of cases showed that 292 were in Dublin, 119 in Cork, 76 in Wexford, 60 in Limerick, and 47 in Kildare.

The remaining 453 cases are spread across all other counties.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "No single intervention is perfect at preventing the spread of Covid-19, it takes many different individual actions to slow down the spread of the disease.

"Every action you take is another layer of protection between you and the virus - the more layers you have the more protection you have.

"Public health measures are based on this principle. Keep physical distance from others, wash hands regularly, avoid crowds, wear face coverings and vaccines all provide you with layers of defence against COVID-19."

The HSE has this evening said it expects to receive around 43,200 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine over the next week.

This is due to be delivered in two batches, with the first batch of 21,600 doses arriving in the coming days.

The balance will "most likely" be delivered next weekend, the HSE said.

However, it said supply from vaccine manufacturers is "dynamic and constantly subject to change", and plans must be flexible to "accommodate unforseen events".

It said: "We have committed volumes under the EU's Advanced Purchase Agreement, but the schedule of delivery remains fluid."

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Earlier the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said the first batches of Astra Zeneca will start arriving this weekend.

"There will be 190,000 doses in total arriving in February," he told RTÉ's News At One.

"They will be administered straight away," he said, adding that patient-facing frontline healthcare workers will start receiving it early next week.

Carers in formal settings are included in the second group of frontline healthcare workers, and family carers will be vaccinated in whatever cohort they are currently in.

Based on the figures from Wednesday evening, the minister said around 220,000 vaccinations have been completed - 130,000 of these to healthcare workers and the remaining to residents of long-term care facilities, who are aged over 85.

Mr Donnelly said most of dose two of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will have been given by the end of this month.

The roll-out to over 85s via GPs will begin on the week beginning 15 February. He said 70% of GPs will be able to do this in practice and solutions will be found for the remaining 400.

Anyone who does not have a GP should contact the HSE Helpline on 1850 24 1850.

Asked about hotel quarantine for arrivals into Ireland, Mr Donnelly said his department and the Attorney General's office would have legislation ready for debate in the Oireachtas "very soon".

The minister said anyone who comes back into the country has to quarantine themselves for 14 days.

He said that gardaí will be involved in enforcing this in people's homes. "There will be checks and it is prosecutable," the minister said.

Anyone not in compliance faces fines of up to €2,500 or six months in prison, or both.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said its members have yet to receive guidance on how the Government's quarantine-at-home plan will operate.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, AGSI General Secretary Antoinette Cunningham that since the beginning of the pandemic more than 50 statutory instruments have been handed over to gardaí.

Members have been expected to implement these "sometimes with very poor guiding documents, and sometimes absolutely no training."

She added: "We don't have any operational guidelines, we don't have any regulation, we don't know what the penal provisions are, we don't know how those provisions will be enforced.

"We don't know what the level of engagement will be, but it will have to be crystal clear because the risks are very high."

Additional reporting by Laura Hogan


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