Community leaders in Kilkenny are urging people to follow the public health advice and stay home where possible following a surge in case numbers locally in recent days.
The latest figures show that 51 new cases were reported in Kilkenny to midnight on December 20. The 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 226.7 with 225 cases reported in the past 14 days.
As of 8pm on Monday 21 people were been treating for Covid-19 at St Luke's Hospital with an additional three suspected cases.
CEO of Kilkenny County Council is urging the public to heed the public health advice and said we are facing into 'a very challenging week'.
"The choices and sacrifices we make over the coming days matter," she said.
Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Andrew McGuinness also warned the public to follow public health guidelines and to be wary of fake news.
"We have seen huge developments in recent days with a new strain of the virus which may be up to 70% more transmissible. This is not scare mongering - it is reality - people need to stay at home," added the Cathaoirleach.
"The numbers in Kilkenny are very high. Its a very worrying situation and seems to be getting worse. The only way we can keep numbers down is by being extra vigilant and adhering to the public health advice. I know thats hard at Christmas time and we all want to celebrate with family and friends but we have to accept that this year is very different and our actions now can very well have an impact on every Christmas after this one.
"One of the most dangerous trends I have seen during the pandemic is the spread of fake news on social media encouraging people to ignore health advice. Ridiculous conspiracy theories, Facebook doctors and social media experts claiming that there is some sort of master plan or ulterior motive to all of this are just nonsense and I would urge people not to listen to it.
"My own Facebook page is trolled every day by a very small minority of individuals who claim that masks, lockdowns, social distancing and so on don't work. These claims are simply not true. Public health experts, the world over, are giving us the appropriate advice and we need to all adhere to it. Please don't listen to the fake news, its far from the unfortunate reality we are currently living in, highly damaging and can cost lives.
"I am appealing to everyone to enjoy Christmas at home with their families but limit all of the interactions, stay at home, adhere to the health advice and stay safe. Your actions now may save the life of a loved one, that is a fact."
The Cathaoirleach also acknowledged the huge efforts of all frontline workers from refuse collectors to shop assistants to nurses and added that it hopes that 2021 is a more positive year for everyone.
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