The Department of Public Health Mid-West is urging people across Limerick, Clare and north Tipperary to be extra vigilant about Covid-19 heading into this May Bank Holiday weekend.

The Department has called on them to avoid social gatherings such as birthday parties, after it revealed there were 483 new cases in the region in the past fortnight, and the 14-day incident rate had risen significantly.

It is continuing to manage a number of new virus outbreaks associated with social gatherings.

120 cases were recorded in Nenagh town in the three weeks up to 26 April following outbreaks at the two secondary schools, household clusters and outbreaks among extended families and workplaces.

The 14-day incidence rate in the Mid-West region has increased from 103.6 per 100,000 population on 29 March last to 125.5 per 100,000 population this week.

A low rate of infection will mean a lower risk of further outbreaks which could disruption or possibly close services as they head towards the phased reopening of business and commercial life and other sporting and leisure activities in May and June.

Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said social gatherings including birthday parties and organised indoor gatherings have contributed to a rise in new cases across the region, and have led to a disruption of people's lives in schools and workplaces.

"While infection levels are significantly lower than they were at the peak of the third wave, daily cases should ideally be in low single figures in each county," she added.

A walk-in and drive-through Covid testing centre opened in Nenagh earlier this week