There have been a further 20,554 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by health officials today, once again the highest ever daily total.
As of this morning there were 619 people hospitalised with the virus, an increase of 51 on yesterday’s figures.
Of these patients 88 are being treated in the ICU, itself a decline of five on the day before.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said “For the fourth time this week, we are reporting Ireland’s highest ever number of confirmed cases of COVID-19”.
“The most effective way to minimise the risk of any of us transmitting this virus to others is to avoid mixing indoors with people from other households”.
“I know this is not the advice any one of us wants to hear, particularly in advance of New Year celebrations. However, given the current profile of the disease, it is essential that all of us continue to keep our social contacts as low as possible in the days ahead.”
In the past 24 hours there have been 148 people who were either admitted to hospital with the disease, or had it detected while already in hospital.
The Omicron variant now accounts for more than 90% of cases detected the CMO said.
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy CMO, added that Omicron is far more contagious than any previous variants, and as a result, incidence rates are higher than at any previous point in the pandemic.
“Because of this, many people, despite being boosted and having taken other measures to protect themselves, will be infected with SARS-CoV-2.”
“However, their booster will protect the vast majority from serious illness or hospitalisation, and it will help to protect our health service and critical care capacity.”
More than 2 million people have received a booster shot to date, and Dr Glynn said that rates of hospitalisation would likely be far higher than what we are currently seeing without that.