Ireland has not yet seen the worst impact of the surge in Covid-19 cases on hospitals, the head of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has warned.
The high levels of coronavirus cases across the country have sparked warnings from health officials about the rising number of patients in hospital.
Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, urged the public to follow health guidelines.
There are fears about the backlog in the system which is likely to see an additional 9,000 cases reported in the coming days.
We now have 581 #COVID19 patients in hospital. There are 50 people in ICU. We have likely not seen the worst impacts yet. But everything we do today to stop this virus spreading makes a huge difference. Please let's all play our part to protect our health service.@HSELive— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 2, 2021
Mr Reid tweeted on Saturday: “We now have 581 Covid-19 patients in hospital. There are 50 people in ICU. We have likely not seen the worst impacts yet.
“But everything we do today to stop this virus spreading makes a huge difference. Please let’s all play our part to protect our health service.”
The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has been rising in recent weeks, with the number of coronavirus cases in ICUs more than doubling in two weeks.
On Friday, Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the health system “will not continue to cope” with the high levels of cases.
Dr Holohan said: “The most concerning trend at present is the rapidly increasing number of people being admitted to hospital – we are now admitting between 50–70 people a day to our hospital system.
“Unfortunately, we expect this to get worse before it gets better. Our health system will not continue to cope with this level of impact.
“We have also seen a significant increase in positive laboratory tests in recent days, reflecting a true increase in the incidence of the disease as well as the delay in people coming forward for testing over the Christmas period.
“As our systems catch up with these effects, it places significant pressure on our reporting system.”
Further testing this week of #SARSCoV2 samples dating from #December 23rd to 29th has detected 9 additional #UKvariant cases in #Ireland. This brings the total number of cases identified @nvrlucdireland to 16 (of 169 tested to date) 1/2 https://t.co/gBEy0VjXO7— Cillian De Gascun (@CillianDeGascun) January 1, 2021
More than 109,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out in the last seven days, with a positivity rate of 16%.
It has also been reported that a further nine cases of the variant form of Covid-19 found in the UK have been detected in Ireland.
Cillian De Gascun, medical virologist, said that further testing of SARSCoV2 samples dating from December 23 to 29 found the additional variant cases.
He said it takes the total number of cases found to 16.
On Friday, 11 further deaths related to Covid-19 and an additional 1,754 cases were reported.