THE NUMBER of Covid-19 patients in Irish hospitals has dropped below 600 for the first time since early January.
There are currently just 593 people being treated for coronavirus in hospitals around the country, which is a remarkable improvement after figures topped 2,000 towards the end of last month.
They haven't dropped below 600 since January 2, when hospitalisations began to sharply rise following the Christmas period, where families mixed, people returned home from abroad, and the UK variant rose to prominence.
Just 135 people currently remain in intensive care, and according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), that figure could drop to around 50 by the third week in March.
HSE chief Paul Reid took to Twitter to celebrate the drop in figures.
"As of last night, thankfully those in hospital with Covid-19 is down to 597 with 135 in ICU," he wrote.
Some welcome news for our exhausted healthcare staff too. This is a long exit route from this wave for everyone.
"But we will get there."
Despite the positive news, the Department of Health revealed on Wednesday that a 16-year-old was among the 56 people who passed away from Covid-19, while 574 new cases were reported.
Professor Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, a consultant in infectious diseases in Dublin, insisted that Ireland is making good progress.
"It looks like we're starting to turn a corner and head in the right direction, we were stuck there around 1,000 cases per day for a while, but it's really encouraging that's two days that we've been closer to 500," she said.
"I suppose it's still a very fragile time, so now is not the time to loosen up the measures because with this new variant, this UK variant, it's much more transmissible, so it really seizes any opportunity that it has to transmit."