How Ireland reached 1 million confirmed cases of Covid-19

More cases of virus recorded in the first five days of 2022 than in the whole of 2020

While some people will have had Covid-19 twice, others, especially children, have been asymptomatic and are not counted in the figures or have been unable recently to access a PCR test. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

While some people will have had Covid-19 twice, others, especially children, have been asymptomatic and are not counted in the figures or have been unable recently to access a PCR test. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the State has now surpassed the unwanted milestone of 1 million cases.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) of 23,909 cases has pushed the number since the pandemic began to 1,002,013 cases.

It is the equivalent of one person in five in the State who has tested positive for Covid-19 in a population estimated at just over five million.

While some people will have had Covid-19 twice, others, especially children, have been asymptomatic and are not counted in the figures or have been unable recently to access a PCR test.

The arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variant has pushed daily figures to unprecedented levels.

The first case in the State was recorded on February 29th, 2020. It took 10 months to record the first 100,000 cases, but only another month to record the next 100,000 as the more transmissible Alpha variant took hold.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
240 27

After an extended lockdown last winter and spring, the Delta variant arrived during the summer and it was still more infectious than Alpha. It saw another acceleration in case numbers.

A half a million cases was reached on November 15th and it has taken less than two months for another half a million cases to be recorded.

The number of cases has accelerated still further since the Omicron variant, the most infectious strain to date, became the dominant one.

There were more cases recorded in the first five days of 2022 (96,296) than in the whole of 2020 (91,779).

Ireland’s rate of 200,000 cases of Covid-19 per million is one of the highest in the world surpassed only by Montenegro (302,902), Slovenia (273,230), the UK (211,537 per million) and Lithuania (204,206), according to the Worldometer.

Dublin City University immunologist Prof Christine Loscher said the figures were “shocking”, but not surprising given that the arrival of the Omicron variant corresponded with the general opening up of society.

She said case numbers are not as relevant now as they were before. “A million is a big number and who would have thought we would never see 25,000 cases a day either? We need to concentrate less on case numbers. It’s great that we are not seeing these numbers translate into serious illness.”

She estimated, based on figures from Denmark, that between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of Omicron cases may be reinfections, but that has been balanced with the estimation that between 300,000 and 500,000 infections have gone unrecorded in the State to date.

She said there may be another million cases before the Omicron wave is over, but the mild nature of the symptoms most people are experiencing makes it less scary a prospect than it might have been earlier in the pandemic.

“The first half a million cases were a hell of a lot harder than the last half a million cases. Now we have vaccinations, boosters and the nature of Omicron. The case numbers don’t influence our lives in the same way.”

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