Ireland is continuing to report “worrying” Covid-19 case numbers as the country grapples with the Delta variant.
There were 2,975 new cases of the virus reported here on Wednesday, the first time in over a week that the figures have dipped below 3,000.
As of Thursday morning, there were 543 people being treated in hospital for the disease, of which 97 are in ICU.
Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of the population is the eighth highest in Europe and faring worse than the UK.
It comes as the residents of three counties in Ireland have been told to “limit” their socialising in the coming weeks.
The Department of Public Health Mid West issued the warning amid a surge in case numbers.
It said: “We are advising people in Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary to limit social activity in order to reduce the level of Covid-19 in the community.
“Infection rates have doubled in the region in recent weeks, similar to January levels.
“Unlike the January wave, we are seeing a lower incidence of illness and death thanks to the successful vaccination programme, thus far.
“However, due to the sharp escalation in new cases in recent weeks, breakthrough infections with serious outcomes are more likely to occur.”
The health body added that in the fortnight leading up to November 8, there were 3,374 Covid-19 cases recorded in the mid-west region.
These include 1,801 in Limerick, 1,027 in Clare, and 546 in North Tipperary.
However, none of these counties make up the top ten worst-hit areas for Covid nationwide.
The national average stands at 915 cases per 100,000 people.
New data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre this week shows the counties that recorded the highest incidence rates of the virus per 100,000 of the population over the past fortnight.
Leitrim is in the top spot, according to the latest HPSC data for the fortnight between October 27 and November 9.
The county has an incidence rate of 1,426 per 100,000 of the population.
Making up the top three Covid hotspots are Waterford (1,307) and Carlow (1,185).
The rest of the regions in the top ten worst-hit areas are: Louth (1,180), Laois (1,165), Longford (1,105), Westmeath (1,087), Donegal (1,056), Cork (1,015) and Kerry (1,012).
These are followed by: Limerick (979), Meath (987), Dublin (938), Galway (890), Tipperary (890), Clare (884) Wicklow (872). Wexford (869), Cavan (850), Mayo (841) and Kilkenny (819).
Meanwhile, the five counties faring best with coronavirus are: Monaghan (669), Roscommon (686), Kildare (788), Offaly (777) and Sligo (795).