A further two deaths of Covid-19 patients have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team. This brings to 2,194 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.
Nphet also reported 1,025 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 84,098 the total number of cases in the Republic.
The number of daily Covid-19 cases has risen above the 1,000 mark for the first time in two months.
On Christmas Day, the National Public Health Emergency Team reported 1,025 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 84,098 the total number of cases in the Republic.
The last time the figure was over 1,000 was on October 25th.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan confirmed the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been identified in Ireland through whole genome sequencing at the National Virus Reference Laboratory in UCD.
“Further testing in the coming days and weeks will establish the extent to which it is present here. In the meantime, it is vitally important that we each stay at home, avoid social contact and avoid all forms of non-essential travel,” Dr Holohan said/
“It is particularly important that those who have arrived from the UK strictly self-isolate for a full 14 days following arrival. They should not interact with others, visit others, socialise or go shopping.
Testing recent arrivals
The HSE is making arrangements to test recent arrivals from the UK, Dr Holohan said. Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the NVRL, said the samples tested were from last weekend, so the variant of the virus was likely acquired around December 12th-14th.
On Christmas Eve, there were 50 confirmed cases in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, 26 in Letterkenny and 22 in Tallaght.
There were 1,137 free beds in hospitals on Christmas Eve morning, a time of the year when occupancy are traditionally at low levels. Covid-19 patients accounted for over 10 per cent of all patients in critical care, and 62 critical care beds were vacant.
Monaghan GP Shane Corr, who spent Christmas Day working in out-of-hours services in the north-east, said they were inundated with symptomatic virus patients.
He said it was particularly noticeable that multiple members in the one household were developing symptoms.
Dr Corr urged people to stay at home for next two weeks at a minimum.