Limerick has experienced a Covid-19 spike over the past 10 days, according to Public Health Mid West. This includes 90 cases on Friday, 53 cases on Saturday, and 59 cases yesterday.

It is the sharpest increase in Covid-19 cases since before the onset of the 'third wave' in December.

The Department of Public Health Mid-West is encouraging people in Limerick who have symptoms, concerns, or been exposed to high-risk social settings to avail of the free walk-in centre.

According to provisional data, more than 680 coronavirus cases were recorded in Limerick, more than 60 in Clare, and more than 30 in North Tipperary in the two week period between 16 and 30 May.

Reasons for the increase, cited by public health doctors, are high-risk social indoor activity, including house parties, family and extended family gatherings and events, small to large household gatherings.

Poor and inconsistent infection prevention and control practices at work, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, congregating at break/lunch time, and working while infectious. This has resulted in onward transmission.

There have also been outbreaks in creches, primary schools and secondary schools - the vast majority linked to social activity outside the school setting.

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Some children are attending school while infectious with mild symptoms.

Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: "I would like to thank the people of Limerick for availing of the free walk-in Covid-19 test clinic over the past week.

"This has allowed us to gauge and understand the extent of this situation, and to evaluate trends and behaviours that are contributing to this large community outbreak."

Dr Mannix added: "I would also like to appeal to the public to be considerate of students who are preparing for Leaving Cert exams next week.

"Unfortunately, any student who is a new confirmed case or a new close contact will be at risk of missing exams."

The free walk-in and drive-through Covid-19 testing clinic is located at St Joseph's Health Campus, Mulgrave Street and is operating from 11am to 6.15pm until this Wednesday. No appointment is needed.

The walk-in and drive-through at Unit 6D Eastpoint Business Park, Ballysimon Road is self-referral from 8am to 4pm, and appointment only between 4pm and 7pm.

At times over the past week, there have been significant queues at both testing clinics in Limerick.

Public health authorities advise people to avail of self-referral walk-in clinics at the former Castlebrand factory in Nenagh (9am to 7.45pm), and Block 1 Ballymalley Business Park in Ennis (12pm to 6.40pm).

A total of 5,794 people have been tested at the Limerick test centres since last Wednesday.