ONE-HUNDRED-AND-EIGHTY cases of Covid-19 have been traced back to a single pub as Ireland braces for the virus' fourth wave to hit.
Social mixing at the pub, located in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, has sparked a "very significant outbreak" in the local community, and various areas of Dublin, Sligo and Westmeath have seen case numbers shoot up dramatically over the past few weeks.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn warned of "excess hospitalisations and deaths" in a grave assessment of the situation on Thursday evening.
"The conditions are now in place for a further wave before the Autumn," he said.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan echoed Dr Glynn's words, following news that the Delta variant now accounts for more than 70% of the total cases in Ireland - up from 50% just a few days ago.
"There is every reason to believe…that we are facing a significant wave of Delta-driven transmission.We are all concerned about the rapidly changing transmission arising from the Delta variant," the CMO said.
"However, we know that the basic public health measures will work in protecting people. And we know that all the vaccines offer significant protection against transmitting the disease and in how severe it is for those who pick it up."
Ireland's Covid-19 death toll surpassed the 5,000 mark on Thursday, and with the virus' growth rate at 2% per day, health experts were understandably desperate for the country to maintain a cautious reopening approach, which was reflected in the government's decision to delay the return on indoor dining on Tuesday.
"In the last two weeks we began to see a shift towards greater proportion of transmission in the country being attributed to this new Delta variant," Dr Holohan said on Thursday.
"This put us in a situation where we knew we were at greater risk in terms of the easing of restrictions that would lead to an increase of socialisation."