Coronavirus: 5,325 new cases, 17 deaths reported

Current surge can be turned around quickly if lockdown measures are adhered to , Holohan says

With some early progress being made in stemming the record rise in Covid-19 cases, the current surge can be “turned around” quickly if lockdown measures are adhered to, the chief medical officer has said.

“We are now experiencing a considerable surge in cases and hospitalisations. We can turn this around quickly if we stick to the measures we know worked last spring,” Dr Tony Holohan said on Tuesday.

A further 17 deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet). This brings to 2,282 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported 5,325 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 113,322 the total number of cases in the Republic. Sixteen of the 17 deaths reported on Tuesday occurred in January.


It comes as the latest genomic testing shows that 25 per cent of positive Covid-19 cases sampled in the State contain the UK variant, chief medical officer Tony Holohan told Ministers at a briefing today, according to Government sources. The new variant is thought to be far more infectious, but samples up to now had suggested it accounted for less than 10 per cent of cases.

Early progress

Of the new cases on Tuesday, 1,931 are in Dublin, 767 in Cork, 323 in Kildare, 322 in Limerick and 238 in Donegal, with the remaining 1,744 cases spread across all other counties.  The median age is 36 years and 63 per cent are under 45.

On Tuesday afternoon, there were 840 patients in hospital, including 76 in ICU. There have been 102 additional hospitalisation in the past 24 hours.

“We have seen some early progress in that the average number of contacts per case has been dropping in recent days – but we need to continue this effort to limit as much as we can our contact with other people in the days and weeks ahead.

“If we all stay home and keep to the public health advice, we can bring Covid-19 back under control - which ultimately will protect our essential services such as health and education and most importantly save lives.”

The 14-day incidence of the disease stands at 674.4 per 100,000 people nationally, though this does not take account of a significant backlog of cases still to be reported.

Monaghan, Louth and Limerick have the highest county incidences - all above 1,000 - while Wicklow has the lowest.

Monday marked the highest number of referrals from GPs for Covid-19 testing with 24,500 people sent for testing, exceeding the previous record of 15,000 one day last week.

There were about 19,000 people swabbed in the community each day on both Monday and Tuesday, according to Niamh O’Beirne, national lead for testing and tracing within the HSE.

In addition, about 10,000 swabs were taken each day in testing in the hospital system and the serial testing programme of nursing homes.

The higher rate of infections since Christmas has increased testing to record levels and pushed the testing and tracing system to capacity, forcing the HSE to abandon the automatic testing of close contacts last week.

Mortality rate

Earlier Dr Holohan warned there will be a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 deaths this month. Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, he said the increase in deaths would lag behind the surge in new cases and hospitalisations.

The mortality rate for January will be a “significant multiple” of the rates in November and December.

Health service ‘under threat’

Meanwhile, HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said the health service is "under real threat".

“We’re heading to the peak of hospitalisations as in the 1st Wave. Primary & GP services are under relentless strain. Swabbing centres have positivity rates from 40 to 55 per cent, ” he tweeted, urging people to reduce transmission and stay at home.

Earlier , a HSE official warned the current rate of hospitalisations with Covid-19 is of more concern that during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Liam Woods, the HSE's national director of acute operations, said that in his six years in the position, he had not seen a threat of the same level as the current Covid-19 surge.

Mr Woods told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland that the projections of the numbers who will need hospitalisation were of more concern than during the first wave. However, preparatory work had already been carried out last March and April with regard to supply of ventilators and oxygen.

Mr Woods said discussions with private hospitals were ongoing to enable the transfer of some cancer care to private hospitals to free up beds in public hospitals.

“We are already doing some of that. There has been a lot of co-operation from the private sector.”

He said the key point was to create capacity which had led to the cancellation of all non-urgent procedures. “We have to create the space and capacity.”