PCR-confirmed Covid cases total 6,697

A further 5,639 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been notified of 6,697 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19, as numbers drift lower following a wave of Omicron cases at the turn of the year.

In addition, 5,639 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.

The Department of Health has cautioned that self-registered test results are not directly comparable with laboratory PCR-confirmed cases.

As of 8am on Friday, 597 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 66 are in ICU.


Separately Britain reported 84,053 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday and a further 254 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

The number of new cases in the past seven days was down 2.4 per cent on a week before at 614,720, while the number of deaths was 3.4 per cent down on the previous week at 1,766.

Meanwhile, in Austria, a making it compulsory for adults to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the European Union's first such sweeping Covid-19 vaccine mandate, was promulgated on Friday and will go into force on Saturday.

Austria's upper house of parliament passed the bill on Friday afternoon after being signed into law by president Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Karl Nehammer, meaning it will take effect the next day. Roughly 69 per cent of Austria's population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, one of the lowest rates in western Europe, which the conservative-led government says justifies the measure and its fines of up to €3,600 for breaches. There are, however, growing doubts that the mandate will be fully implemented since a record number of infections due to the highly contagious Omicron variant is increasing immunity among the population.

"The law is unconstitutional and not proportionate," Herbert Kickl, leader of the far-right and anti-vaccination Freedom Party, the only party in parliament to oppose the bill said in a statement after Van der Bellen signed it.

Kickl has pledged to fight the measure in the courts.

There are also weekly protests on Saturdays in Vienna against restrictions including the mandate, often attended by tens of thousands of people.

The mandate will be implemented in phases. There will be no checks until March 15, when police will start verifying the vaccination status of people they stop in their regular patrols.

More thorough checks will begin at a later, unspecified date in a third phase once a vaccination register is up and running. - Additional reporting: Reuters