IRELAND'S COVID-19 cases have more than doubled in the month of January alone.
From March, when the pandemic first reached Irish shores, until December 2020, 93,500 cases were identified in Ireland-- across a total of eight months.
In January 2021, 96,000 cases have been reported.
There has now been a total of 189,851 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.
The explosion in cases came after heightened social mixing, inter-generational mixing and travel associated with Christmas, and the high number of cases inevitably led to a higher number of deaths, with more than 700 identified so far this month.
The UK variant of the disease is fast becoming the dominant strain in Ireland, and a number of cases of the South African variant have now also been identified within the community.
Yesterday Ireland recorded another grim milestone in its battle against Covid-19, as the death toll passed 3,000 with another 90 people reported to have passed away with the virus.
There have now been a total of 3,066 deaths linked to the pandemic.
The daily number of new cases are dropping significantly at last, however, due to the public's efforts in sticking with Level 5 restrictions, and yesterday the daily number of cases was under 1,000 for the first time in 2021.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said:
"The decline in daily incidence of COVID-19 has begun, however the volume of disease in our communities remains very high.
"To date we have reported 96,000 cases in January 2021, which has already passed the total of 93,500 cases reported in 2020. Indeed, public health doctors in the Midlands reported a total of 4,000 cases in the first 8 months of 2020 and another 4,000 cases in the first four weeks of 2021.
"Through our enhanced public health surveillance programme, we have identified 6 additional cases linked to the Southern African variant of concern. All cases are being followed up by public health teams in line with the latest ECDC guidance published on 21 January."
Dr Holohan went on to praise the efforts of the Irish people who, by and large, are sticking with the lockdown rules and leading to the significant drop in cases.
"The downturn in incidence has been achieved through the determination of people across the country to stay at home, to work from home and to avoid meeting and socialising with others," he said.
"It is imperative that everyone continues to strictly adhere to the public health advice to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this highly infectious disease."