From cases of the variant first detected in India reported in Ireland to a drop in disease activity, here are five things we learned from today's Covid-19 briefing.
Three cases of variant first seen in India confirmed
Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian de Gascun said that there have been three cases of the recent variant first identified in India.
Dr De Gascun said at least two of them are associated with travel.
He said NPHET does not have any data to determine whether the variant is more transmissible or not, but said at this stage people need to remain vigilant and try to contain it locally.
Separately, 24 cases of the P1 variant, which was first found in Brazil, have so far been confirmed in Ireland, while 55 cases of B1351 South African variant have also been confirmed.
Dr Cillian de Gascun has said that three cases of a Covid variant which was first identified in India, has been identified in Ireland over the last couple of days | https://t.co/vb2PAXJ78M pic.twitter.com/XdeI08wP2o— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 19, 2021
Disease activity at levels previously seen in November
GP Darach O'Ciardha, who is also founder and director of the GP Buddy app, told the briefing that GPs are reporting similar disease activity levels to that seen in November.
"We have come a long way though since the highs of January," he added.
Dr O'Ciardha said the last three Mondays have seen a lower average number of cases meeting the criteria for testing, which he said was "welcome", but added that it was important people do not drop their guard.
Dr Darach Ó Ciardha said that the last three Mondays have seen "lower average cases meeting testing criteria" than the previous ones. He said activity still remains in the community, but we have come a long way | https://t.co/vb2PAXJ78M pic.twitter.com/MypwdI7nx2— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 19, 2021
Improving incidence of disease across all age groups
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn told the briefing there is ongoing improvement in terms of incidence in all age groups.
The five-day moving average of cases now stands at 364 cases per day, which Dr Glynn said was "the lowest it's been for some months".
He said on average there are now two new admissions to intensive care each day, and that while no deaths were recorded today, there had still been eight deaths on average in recent days.
He noted, however, that many of those were from January, February and March.
Acting CMO Dr Ronan Glynn said there is an "ongoing improving situation in relation to incidence, numbers of people in hospital". He said that there is ongoing improvement in the incidence of the virus across all age groups | https://t.co/vb2PAXJ78M pic.twitter.com/08c59mcqtY— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 19, 2021
Recommendation to extend interval between doses may not be needed
Dr Glynn said there may not be a need to recommend an extension of the interval between the first and second dose of some vaccines.
He said that no advice had been given to Government.
Dr Glynn said he wanted to hear what the European Medicines Agency says later this week about the pause on the roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the impact on vaccine supply.
He said that there were pros and cons to extending the interval between doses.
An extension would mean it would take longer to complete the national vaccination programme.
Dr Ronan Glynn has said they need to wait and see what the updated statement is from the EMA later this week on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, before a decision is made on whether or not to extend the intervals between vaccine doses | https://t.co/vb2PAXJ78M pic.twitter.com/p17MgrCCZl— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 19, 2021
'Phenomenal' compliance seen as close contacts stay steady
Dr Glynn told the briefing the average number of close contacts has stayed steady at 2.6 per case, however incidence will increase should this begin to rise.
He said that up to last week's data, "a phenomenal level of compliance" had been seen with measures, as well as a very stable level of compliance going back to mid-February.
Dr Glynn also added that the first indication of the impact of schools and construction returning last week will be made known at Thursday evening's briefing.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says a "phenomenal" level of compliance has been seen among the public, and that the number of close contacts per case has stayed at an average of 2.6 | More: https://t.co/vb2PAXJ78M pic.twitter.com/dy72h0N7BI— RTÉ News (@rtenews) April 19, 2021