Nine more people have died of coronavirus – and an additional 4,842 new cases have been confirmed in Ireland, the Department of Health said.
Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 1,162.
Monaghan has the highest incidence rate in the country at 2,296, followed by Louth at 2,008 and Limerick at 1,660.
Of the new cases confirmed on Saturday, 1,049 were in Dublin, 530 in Cork, 514 in Waterford, 405 in Wexford, 247 in Louth and the remaining 2,097 cases are spread across all other counties.
61% of the cases were in people under 45 years of age.
The median age was 38 years old.
It comes as a record 1,293 people with Covid-19 were in hospital in Ireland on Saturday afternoon, including 119 in ICU.
The figure is now four times higher than a fortnight ago when 321 people were in hospital with the virus on December 27.
There were 102 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
There's now 1,285 people being treated in hospital (+ 134 on yesterday) with #COVID19 & 107 in ICU. For now, it will rise more. Saving lives & protecting more people getting sick is our priority. But, in time, the huge sacrifices everyone is making will work. Thank you. @HSELive— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 9, 2021
Hospital staff are bracing themselves for a surge in coronavirus patients as the number of cases escalate.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the priority must be protecting more people from getting sick as the numbers of people being taken to hospital with the virus will continue to rise.
He tweeted: “There’s now 1,285 people being treated in hospital (+ 134 on yesterday) with Covid19 & 107 in ICU.
“For now, it will rise more. Saving lives & protecting more people getting sick is our priority. But, in time, the huge sacrifices everyone is making will work. Thank you.”
Ireland’s coronavirus reproduction number is now between 2.4 and 3, the highest level seen throughout the pandemic.
Friday saw three cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 discovered in Ireland.
There are fears that the mutated form of coronavirus could be resistant to vaccines, although public health chiefs here say there is not enough information to determine that.