TWO in three patients in intensive care in Ireland are being treated for coronavirus, according to the head of the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Taking to Twitter, HSE chief Paul Reid said that the service had never seen such a large number of people being treated "for the same illness".
He revealed that there are currently 211 Covid-19 patients in Ireland's ICUs.
"We've never seen 66% of patients in ICU (211) being treated for the same illness," he wrote on Friday morning.
"We're battling hard to sustain safe levels of care, but it's getting harder.
"300 patients are also receiving respiratory support outside of ICU.
"Nothing is more serious."
We've never seen 66% of patients in ICU (211) being treated for the same illness. We're battling hard to sustain safe levels of care but its getting harder.300 patients are also receiving respiratory support outside of ICU. Nothing is more serious. #StaySafe @HSELive #COVID19
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 22, 2021
The news comes just as Ireland's Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan suggested that the country could see as many as 1,000 people die as a result of the virus in January alone.
As of Wednesday, 485 people's lives had been claimed by Covid-19 since the turn of the year, but the UK variant continuing to spread rapidly, and after a number of outbreaks are care homes across the country, there are fears that number could begin to surge in the coming days.
Worryingly, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) also warned yesterday that the number of daily cases of coronavirus is 10 times higher than at the start of December.
"The number of deaths confirmed per day over the last seven days, 44, is the highest we've seen at any point during the pandemic," said Philip Nolan, head of the Government's Covid modelling unit.
Ireland's infection rate is, however, falling, and while Dr Holohan admitted that "progress" was being made, there's still plenty left to do in order to get the situation back under control.
Cabinet and NHPET are to meet on Tuesday to discuss extending Level 5 restrictions. The expectation being that lockdown will be prolonged long in to February, and possibly beyond that.