‘Country simply cannot cope with this level of infection’, says Holohan

Outbreaks in private houses continue to increase with 328 reported last week

In the last seven days 84,981 Covid-19 tests were carried out across the country, which had a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Photograph: Alan Betson

In the last seven days 84,981 Covid-19 tests were carried out across the country, which had a positivity rate of 3.5 per cent. Photograph: Alan Betson


The situation with Covid-19 is getting worse more rapidly than public health officials expected, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned on Friday, as a further 582 new cases of the virus were reported.

“Over the past week, we have expressed significant concern that the level of infection was deteriorating day on day. The data today adds further evidence that the situation is getting worse more rapidly than we expected.

“The country simply cannot cope with this level of infection as we head into Christmas week. With vaccines offering hope in the coming months for our most vulnerable groups, we want to keep them alive and well so that they can receive it,” he said.

“Each one of us must do all we can to protect public health - cut your contacts, see only those you need to see. Choose to socialise safely, outdoors if possible. If you see a crowd, avoid it.

“By choosing to act safely right now, together we can limit the impact this disease will have in the weeks and months to come - and in doing so, we can protect the vulnerable and prevent unnecessary deaths,” he added.

A further six deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Friday.

This brings to 2,149 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported an additional 582 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 78,254 the total number of cases in the Republic.

This is the highest daily total since November 5th.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
965 88

Of the new cases, 193 are in Dublin, 59 in Wexford, 47 in Louth, 42 in Meath and 34 in Cork with the remaining 207 cases spread across all other remaining counties.

On Friday afternoon there were 198 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 34 were in ICU. There have been 13 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The surge in cases has pushed the 14-day incidence of the disease up above 100 again, to 100.8 cases per 100,000 people. Donegal, Louth and Kilkenny have the highest county figures, while Leitrim and Clare have the lowest.

Meanwhile there has been a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 outbreaks in private households, and just one recorded in a hospitality setting in the past week, latest figures show.

New data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows an additional 328 outbreaks - defined as two or more cases - occurred in family homes last week, an 18 per cent increase on the 279 reported the week before.

Private houses remain the most commonly reported outbreak location, according to the report. There were also an additional 13 outbreaks among extended family members.

As for the hospitality sector, there was one outbreak recorded in a hotel, but none in restaurants or cafes. If the Government heeds new advice from Nphet, restaurants and cafes would close on December 28th, save for takeaways.

Meanwhile, a further 19 outbreaks were reported in schools in the week to Saturday December 12th, bringing to 103 the number of open outbreaks associated with the settings.

There were also nine new acute hospital outbreaks and four more in nursing homes.

Nine new workplace outbreaks were also recorded, including one in a food or drink production company, one in the construction industry, three in manufacturing, and one in an office.

On Thursday, the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, warned that the virus is spreading in social settings, including Christmas parties, workplaces, and funerals.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is to limit your interactions now. The consequences of not doing so will be exponential growth in January, a substantial increase in hospitalisations and risk to life,” he said.

The North’s health department in its figures published on Friday afternoon reported 12 more deaths from the virus taking its total to 1,166.

An additional 510 new cases of the virus were also reported by it, taking the total to 60,797.

There are 445 patients receiving Covid treatment in Northern Ireland hospitals with 31 in intensive care and 26 on ventilators.