Belfast and Donegal are Ireland’s Covid hotspots, according to the latest official figures.
The most Covid-infected region on the island is Belfast, with many postcode areas in the city recording incidence rates above 1,000 cases per 100,000 over the latest two-week period.
The BT2, BT3 and BT12 postcodes, which cover part of the city centre and west Belfast, have the highest infection rates, while cases also remain high in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast.
For the fourth week in a row, Carndonagh in Co Donegal has the highest infection rate in the Republic. Almost 1 in 53 people tested positive over the latest two-week period – 1,881 cases per 100,000 people.
Other areas in Co Donegal with high incidence include Buncrana (1,212 per 100,000) and Milford (988).
The next worst-affected area in the State is Westport, Co Mayo, with the local electoral area reporting 1,034 cases per 100,000 – down from 1,230 last week.
Other areas where coronavirus is spreading more widely include Ballygawley, Co Tyrone (1,341), Derry City (1,307), Maghera, Co Derry (1,233), Omagh-Plumbridge, Co Tyrone (1,137), Dungannon-Coalisland, Co Tyrone (1,110), Swinford, Co Mayo (1,030), Newry, Co Armagh (965) and Dundalk-Carlingford, Co Louth (922).
The figures are based on the number of new cases in the Republic’s 166 local electoral areas and the North's 80 postcode areas over the most recent two-week period.
The North Inner City has the highest infection rate in the capital, with 775 cases per 100,000 people, up from 618 last week. Blackrock has the lowest rate in Dublin at 276 per 100,000, down from 317 last week.
There are no areas in Ireland with rates below 100 cases per 100,000. Roscrea-Templemore (115) and Clonmel (140) in Co Tipperary are the areas with the lowest infection rates.
Hospitals extremely busy
The update comes as the chief executive of the HSE warned that hospitals remain extremely busy.
Paul Reid, speaking at a weekly briefing, said “many of our hospitals face significant pressures on Covid and non-Covid services”.
The HSE expects the number of people with Covid-19 in hospital will continue to rise throughout August and into September.
Cork, Galway and Mayo are among the areas under the most serious pressure in hospital admissions.
Meanwhile, the Northern Executive agreed a number of changes to Covid restrictions in the North.
The changes, which apply from Monday, include the removal of the cap on the number of people who can gather together outside in domestic gardens; the end of household bubbling arrangements; scrapping social distancing requirements on public transport; and the removal of a six-person limit at tables in hospitality venues.
The Executive met for the first time in two weeks on Thursday amid continuing high infection rates. Transmission rates in the region are the highest in Ireland and Britain.