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Health minister said next two weeks would be crucial in Ireland’s exit from Level 5 restrictions by the end of the month

DUBLIN: Level 5 restrictions in Ireland, which have been in place for almost two months, are expected to end in early December.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said, the next two weeks will be crucial in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and getting out of level 5 restrictions by the end November.

“Clear intention is that Level 5 will end at the end of November,” Minister Donnelly said.

Minister Donnelly also said he had decided to approach Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to find out whether there are any issues with the new implementation, with a proposal to impose fines on people who drink alcohol on the street.

Department of Health confirmed 11 further deaths and 366 new cases of coronavirus in Ireland yesterday. This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases to 68,686 and deaths to 1,995.

272 patients were hospitalised with the virus infection. There are now 34 patients being treated in intensive care units.

Minister said 13 of the 26 counties have seen more cases in the last seven days than in the previous seven days. The positive rate rose to about 4%.

“We’re exiting Level 5 at the start of December. You can never say never on anything, but there is no appetite whatsoever to extend Level 5 past six weeks,” Minister said.

The COVID-19 case numbers dropped from 1,200 a day three weeks ago to 360 today, but Mr. Donnelly said on RTE’s Six One program that people have become fatigued. He added that large crowds gathering outside for drinking and high traffic on the roads are signs of this.

At the same time, Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said there is more concern about the failure to maintain recent positive trends.

“The five-day moving average of daily cases has increased from an average of 350 cases on 11 November to 424 today,” Dr. Holohan said.

“We have two weeks to continue in our efforts to drive down community transmission of this disease as much as possible. The lower the incidence the more flexibility the country will have in easing measures,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister Donnelly said he brought a memo to Cabinet today on the advance purchase of 2.2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. It is the fourth vaccine for which an advanced purchase is in place.

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