There have been more than 10,000 cases of Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health in the last week, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer has said.

It comes as the Health Service Executive confirmed that the number of children aged 12-15 years registered for a Covid-19 vaccine is now at 71,000.

Dr Ronan Glynn said that Covid incidence rates are rising across all counties, with very high incidence rates across Donegal, Monaghan, Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Louth and Cavan.

He was speaking after the Department of Health reported 1,978 new cases this evening.

There are 221 people in hospital who have tested positive for the disease, a rise of two since yesterday, of whom 43 are in ICU, an increase of six in the past 24 hours.

In a video posted on Twitter, Dr Glynn added: "At the beginning of July, we had an average of seven admissions per day to hospital. Over the past week, we have recorded 31 admissions per day.

"In early July, less than one person was being admitted to ICU with Covid-19 on average per day; over the past week we have seen four admissions to ICU per day."

He said vaccines are now preventing "at least 10,000 cases and about 500 hospital admissions every week".

The Deputy CMO said that if "we didn't have vaccination, our current 14-day incidence rate would be approximately 1,000 per 100,000.

"We would be seeing up to 50 people admitted to hospital for every 1,000 cases reported. Instead we are seeing about 20 people admitted for every 1,000 cases.

"All of this is positive and demonstrates the effectiveness of these vaccines."

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Four further deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19 have been reported in Northern Ireland.

There has also been 1,389 new confirmed cases of the virus in the last 24-hour reporting period.

Earlier, the Health Service Executive confirmed that earlier problems with its Covid-19 vaccination system, Covax, have been resolved.

In a statement it said that vaccinations continued "uninterrupted", with staff using a "manual system" during the IT disruption.

It had warned earlier that the disruption may have resulted "in longer than usual waiting times in some areas".

However, vaccination centres have now reverted back to the Covax system.

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Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the HSE said 6.28 million vaccines have now been administered here, with over 80% of adults fully vaccinated and almost 90% partially vaccinated.

Paul Reid said the vaccine uptake in Ireland has been "phenomenal" as they move through the age groups, and the benefits are "really strong".

"What we have seen as we move down through the younger ages is not an immediate uptake on the first day or two or three, but a strong uptake over a period of a week or two weeks.

"That's been reflected in 16- to 17-year-olds and now almost 70% of them have registered. Similarly...the 18- to 29-year-olds over 80%."

Mr Reid said they are "very conscious" to ensure that parents and guardians of 12- to 15-year-olds "think about it carefully" and receive the right advice about vaccination.

In relation to booster shots, Mr Reid said they have been looking at a scenario where they would start administering boosters in a similar way to the vaccination programme.

He said they are still awaiting guidance from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Government to start the process.

When asked about the possibility of those who received an AstraZeneca vaccine getting an mRNA booster, Mr Reid said they take their guidance from NIAC and Government.

He said there is a "lag effect" between high levels of Covid-19 case numbers and hospitalisations.

"Returning to normal for our health system is going to take some time," the HSE chief warned.

"Hopefully we do see these hospitalisations stop rising and start declining, but we are still going to have to manage with Covid-19 in our hospitals for some time to come."

The disease has not been eliminated, Mr Reid said, and is still a threat, particularly to vulnerable people in hospital.

"As much as I would wish... it hasn’t been eliminated and we will have to manage our hospital system in the context of managing the risk of Covid too."

In relation to waiting lists, Mr Reid said there are "a number of solutions" they have been working on while dealing with the pandemic, such as recruitment and bed capacity.

Other solutions include providing more home care and establishing community intervention teams, he said, adding that it is "not easy" and will take "many years to solve".

"It would be misleading to say once Covid is over we’ll have this sorted, but once Covid is over we will continue to manage through Covid and we will be implementing a number of strategic initiatives to address the longer term issues which the health system has."

Mr Reid said there is "a hugely compelling argument" for the distribution of vaccines to developing countries, which is "ultimately a decision for Government".

He said Ireland has not been hoarding vaccines.

"What we have been doing is - quite efficiently - on receipt of vaccines; storage, distribution, administration", he said.

"That's what we’re continuing to do. The supply lines that we have coming into us at the moment are primarily mRNA vaccine supply lines, which is just over about 200-thousand.

"That’s still what we’re administering - that’s exactly what we’ll administer this week, that’s what we administered last week."

Mr Reid said supply lines are due to come through in August and on into September for AstraZeneca, which they are not currently administering.

He said there were small numbers of second doses completed last weekend, but "practically" they have been through the utilization of AstraZeneca vaccines.

"I do think there’s an opportunity to do both - potentially an opportunity to work through vaccination booster campaigns, whatever guidance we get, and ultimately decisions for Government around distribution to developing countries."

Additional reporting: Fergal Bowers