Jordan Norris

The establishment of a mass vaccination centre at WIT Arena is a sign that the tide is turning against Covid-19.

Those were the words of Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD following a visit to the centre by public representatives on Friday.

Waterford continues to see a downward trend in Covid cases, with the county this week seeing its incidence rate fall below the national average for the first time in 2021.

The incidence rate of 113.6 per 100,000 of population is below the current national average of 172.3, with Waterford now having the tenth lowest incidence rate in the country.

47 cases were confirmed in the past seven days, compared to 85 a week prior – a fall of roughly 45%.

The incidence rate has fallen in every local electoral area in the county, with Waterford City South and Dungarvan the only local areas with incidence rates higher than that of the then national average of 201.2.

The rate in Waterford City South was 311.4, with 70 cases attributed to the area in the past fortnight, a 9% decrease.

48 cases were confirmed in Dungarvan, with the incidence rate currently at 234.2, a 17% decrease.

Portlaw/Kilmacthomas has the third highest rate at 116.1 with 20 cases recorded, though cases have fallen by a quarter from the week before.

Waterford City East has seen a 39% fall in cases, while Tramore/ Waterford City West has seen a huge fall-off of 60%. Cases in Lismore also fell 35%.

Hospital admissions have also fallen significantly with 20 patients in University Hospital Waterford as of the latest figures, compared to a figure of 131 at the highest point of the third wave of the virus.

Minister Butler said that her visit to the vaccination centre with her Oireachtas colleagues left her with a renewed sense of optimism.

“The facility at WIT Arena is very impressive, and I left the visit with a renewed sense of optimism that the tide is turning in our fight against Covid-19,” she said.

“People are sick and tired of hearing about difficult years and unprecedented times. They are desperate to see the vaccine rolled out as urgently as possible so that we can return to some semblance of normality. People want to meet up, chat and socialise. Businesses want to reopen, thrive, create and sustain employment. Everyone is missing the simple things, from hugging grandparents to meeting up with friends. Having visited this facility, I am feeling very positive that people can begin to look forward to sharing experiences together again.”

The facility is believed to have the capacity to vaccinate 40 people every 10 minutes, via 40 individual hubs, once fully operational. This effort will involve staff from University Hospital Waterford, GPs, Defence Forces, retired GPs and volunteers. It’s hoped the centre will be operational by March 27th.

Minister Butler says that the only limitation in the fight against Covid is vaccine supply, as over-85s and medically vulnerable people continue to receive their vaccinations this week.

“We are limited only by supply,” she said. “There is light at the end of the tunnel. We are turning the tide. It is so important, now more than ever, to hold firm and be mindful of the public health advice as the vaccine roll out ramps up significantly in April as enhanced supply comes on stream.”