Friday, November 19, 2021

Covid infection rates in Ireland have reached their highest levels in nearly a year, with top officials warning the health system is under “inconceivable strain”.

But one area of Co Mayo has recorded the lowest rate of infection on the entire island of Ireland.

Belmullet, Co Mayo had a 14-day incidence of 318 per 100,000, which was actually up from 198 last week. 40 cases of coronavirus were recorded between November 2 and 15.

According to the latest official figures, Drogheda in Co Louth is the most Covid-infected part of the Republic.

The Drogheda Urban local electoral area reported 2,415 cases per 100,000 people over the most recent two-week period. Neighbouring areas in counties Louth, Meath and Dublin have seen case rates surge over recent weeks.

Westport is the most Covid-infected part of Co Mayo, with the 316 cases of coronavirus registered over the same time, equating to an incidence rate of 1,719 – the fourteenth worst out of the 166 local electoral areas in the Republic and the North’s 80 postcode areas combined.

Swinford’s 201 cases gives it an incidence rate of 1,163, Castlebar’s is 1,110 based on 333 cases, Claremorris is 1091 on account of its 296 cases and Ballina’s incidence rate is 1039 on the back of 261 cases of Covid-19.

The BT46 postcode area in the North, which covers Maghera and parts of Co Derry, has the highest rate on the island. About one in 37 people had coronavirus over the past two weeks in the Maghera postcode – 2,675 cases per 100,000 people.

Ballinamore (1,957) and Manorhamilton (1,830) in Co Leitrim are also reporting rates close to 2,000 cases per 100,000.

 

Outside of Belmullet, other places with relatively low virus levels are Newcastle, Co Down (528), Portrush, Co Antrim (543) and Bantry-West Cork (571).

Unrelenting

It comes as HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the health service is facing the “highest level of impact and risk we’ve had to manage since Covid landed here”.

He told a briefing on Thursday: “The situation in our hospitals and healthcare systems overall is very serious,” as they struggle to deliver both regular care and respond to the pressures of the fourth wave of the virus.

Mr Reid warned that services will face “unyielding and unrelenting strain over the next while”.

In response to warnings from health officials, the Government earlier this week announced fresh measures in a bid to reverse the surging number of cases.

Pubs, nightclubs and restaurants must now close at midnight, and people are being urged to work from home from Friday if they can.

There will also be a more widespread use of antigen testing.

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