Over 20K confirmed Covid cases reported today

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 20,554 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

As of 8am today, 619 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, and 88 of them are in ICU.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health 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 last 24 hours, 148 people with COVID-19 were either admitted to hospital or received a 'detected' test result while in hospital. Hospitalisations at this level are not sustainable and are having a significant impact on our health service.

"It is important to note that these admission figures are increasingly likely to be driven by the surge in Omicron infection which now accounts for over 90% of PCR confirmed cases in Ireland.

"Over 90% of people in hospital and intensive care with COVID-19 are there for the management of COVID-19; less than 5% of those in hospital or intensive care have ‘incidental’ (asymptomatic, non-infectious) disease."

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: "Omicron is far more contagious than previous variants and incidence across the country is now much higher than at any 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.

"To date, over two million people have received their booster, without this very significant uptake, the current impact on hospitalisation would be considerably worse.

"Please come forward and avail of your booster as soon as it is available to you. If you have not yet had any COVID-19 vaccine, it is never too late, please come forward and avail of it as, without it, you are at risk of very significant illness if you are exposed to the virus."