AN ASSOCIATE professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Trinity College, Dublin has said that the true level of Ireland's Covid infections is likely much higher than the numbers currently being reported.
16,428 cases were reported yesterday, the highest daily figure ever in Ireland, and the number of people in hospital with the virus currently stands at 619, an increase of 51.
Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, who is also a Consultant Physician at St James's Hospital in Dublin, said on RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the system has maxed out its ability to test people in real-time to get an accurate reflection of case numbers.
Reports on social media have shown frustration at the lack of availability of PCR tests in the country, with slots being booked in minutes when they go live.
"I would suspect that the true number of cases is actually much higher than that 16,000 which in itself is a pretty staggering number," she said.
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson David Cullinane also tweeted today about the "unprecedented pressure on the testing system."
I have been in contact with Minister Donnelly but so far no response. Clearly he & Government need to set out a strategy on how we manage & respond to the high cases expected in the next few weeks specifically in relation to testing & public health messaging & hospital capacity.
— David Cullinane T.D. (@davidcullinane) December 30, 2021
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan expressed concern about the case numbers and said everyone should consider themselves to be potentially infectious.
"Given the very high levels of transmission of this new variant nationwide, every individual should consider themselves potentially infectious, and strictly adhere to the public health measures by washing hands regularly, keeping a safe distance from others, avoiding crowded places and reducing social contacts as much as possible," Dr Holohan said.
"The best way for all of us to stay safe and to continue to protect our loved ones over the coming weeks is to keep your social contacts as low as possible, avoid high risk activities and continue to follow all of the public health measures that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19," he said.
"The current levels of infection we are experiencing mean that shopping in crowded environments, where physical distancing is not possible, should be seen as a high-risk activity and should be avoided unless absolutely essential - especially by those who are not yet fully vaccinated and boosted," he said.
He also encouraged anyone who has travelled to Ireland from overseas to take an antigen test every day for five days to help prevent the spread of the virus.