FOR the third time in the space of a week, a record-breaking number of new, confirmed Covid-19 cases across Ireland have been reported.
A total of 16,428 new confirmed coronavirus cases have been revealed by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
It's the highest daily increase since Christmas Day, when Ireland saw a then record 13,765 daily cases, and it's caused chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan to warn that "every individual should consider themselves potentially infectious".
As of eight o'clock this morning, there were 568 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 93 are at intensive care wards across Ireland.
There has been a total of 5,912 deaths related to Covid-19 notified in Ireland since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. This incudes 22 deaths newly notified in the past week.
Dr Holohan said: "All of the latest epidemiological indicators are a cause of concern. In recent days, we have seen a rise in new admissions to hospital of Covid-19 patients, at levels not seen since January 2021. On two consecutive days this week, over 100 patients with Covid-19 were either admitted to hospital or received a “detected” test result while in hospital."
"Today, we are also reporting our highest ever number of confirmed cases in Ireland. The Omicron variant is accelerating rapidly in the community and given the very high levels of transmission of this new variant nationwide, every individual should consider themselves potentially infectious, and strictly adhere to the public health measures by washing hands regularly, keeping a safe distance from others, avoiding crowded places and reducing social contacts as much as possible," he added, "This time last year the public health advice was our only defence from Covid-19 and these measures are still central to our collective effort to minimise the spread of infection. However, as we move towards the New Year, we do so with the knowledge that 92% of our population over 16 years are now fully vaccinated, the roll out of the vaccine booster is well underway and the vaccine campaign for children aged 5-11 has commenced for those with underlying conditions. "
On a day that the booster vaccine was made available to people over the age of 30, Dr Holohan urged people who are not yet fully vaccinated to take the jab as soon as it's available.
"The best way for all of us to stay safe and to continue to protect our loved ones over the coming weeks is to keep your social contacts as low as possible, avoid high risk activities and continue to follow all of the public health measures that we know can stop the spread of Covid-19," he said, "If you have travelled from overseas to spend time in Ireland it is important that you take an antigen test every day for five days.
"If you are planning to visit retail environments in the coming days, please choose retailers that adhere strongly to the public health guidance and leave any environment that feels unsafe. The current levels of infection we are experiencing mean that shopping in crowded environments, where physical distancing is not possible, should be seen as a high-risk activity and should be avoided unless absolutely essential - especially by those who are not yet fully vaccinated and boosted," the chief medical officer added.
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