THE NUMBER of people in Ireland hospitalised with Covid-19 has now surpassed that of the deadly first wave in April.
Experts have said they are extremely concerned at the rate of infections and hospitalisations since the third wave of the pandemic hit Ireland, as the country has now surpassed 100,000 infections.
Yesterday, a further 5,325 cases and 17 deaths were announced by the HPSC, and Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid has now confirmed the number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 has surpassed that of the first wave peak.
Yesterday, Mr Reid warned that the "Health Service is under real threat now ... we're heading to the peak of [hospitalisations] as in the [first] wave".
This morning, he confirmed that 921 people are now being treated for the virus in hospital, stating "We've now exceeded the peak level of the [first] wave", which peaked at 881 patients in hospital.
With 921people in hospital, we've now exceeded the peak level of the 1st wave (881).75 in ICU. Healthy people are getting very sick. Everyone gets how serious this is now. Let's all do what's needed, turn this around, save lives, whilst the vaccine arrives. We have to. @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 6, 2021
75 people are being treated in Intensive Care Units, Mr Reid said, warning that "Healthy people are getting very sick.
"Everyone gets how serious this is now. Let's do what's needed, turn this around, save lives whilst the vaccine arrives.
"We have to."
Announcing the newest figures at a press briefing yesterday evening, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that Ireland is "now experiencing a considerable surge in cases and hospitalisations," but "we can turn this around quickly if we stick to the measures we know worked last spring."
Dr Holohan did offer some hope, stating "We have seen some early progress in that the average number of contacts per case has been dropping in recent days," but added "we need to continue this effort to limit as much as we can our contact with other people in the days and weeks ahead.
"If we all stay home and keep to the public health advice, we can bring COVID-19 back under control - which ultimately will protect our essential services such as Health and Education and most importantly save lives."
The Cabinet is today expected to announce further restrictions to slow the spread of Covid-19 which could see the return of a lockdown similar to that in March and April of last year, including schools being closed until at least the end of the month.