UK virus variant will become dominant – De Gascun

The Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory has said it is inevitable that a variant of the virus which was first detected in the UK will become the dominant variant here over time.

Dr Cillian De Gascun said the virus has adapted and is better at moving from person to person, making it all the more important that people keep their distance.

There are 186 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care this morning. The majority of these, 22, are in St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

There are 1,872 people with coronavirus across the Irish hospital system. Most are in Cork University Hospital (152), followed by University Hospital Limerick (139) and St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin (134).

A total of 77,303 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Professor Brian MacCraith, the head of the Government’s vaccination task force, said in a post on Twitter that 1,800 GPs and practice nurses were inoculated in three new mass vaccination centres that opened yesterday in Dublin, Galway and Portlaoise.

Yesterday, the HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said that the Moderna vaccine was the main one being used in the new centres.

He said: “It is going extremely well so far. There are ten bays in each site, vaccinating between 40 and 60 people per hour.

“Our programme for nursing homes is being accelerated this week and next week by the middle of February, everyone should have had their second dose of the vaccine.”

HSE Chief Operations Officer Dr Colm Henry paid tribute to the “special meitheal spirit” in rolling out the vaccine and said they would be applying that learning to the application of roll-out centres in the next few months.

The Department of Health we notified of 60 further Covid-related deaths and 3,231 new cases of the virus yesterday.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned the disease has “taken root in every single part of the country” and that the levels of infection are still “far too high”.

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