Covid Ireland: 20,909 new cases confirmed as NPHET reveals death toll has passed 6,000

By Ferghal Blaney & Clare McCarthy

A total of 20,909 new Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in Ireland today, while 1,055 people are currently being treated for the virus in hospital.

Of those who are hospitalised for the virus, there were 92 being treated in ICUs around the country.

Omicron is now completely rampant across the country, with the new variant accounting for an estimated 97.8% of all cases.

Ireland's Covid death toll has risen to 6,035 after 83 deaths of people with Covid were notified in the last week.

The latest figures were released by the Department of Health on Wednesday evening.

However, NPHET warned that the reveal 'real number' of people getting infected by Covid every day is more likely to be 30,000.

The stark analysis of numbers was presented by NPHET leading members, Dr Tony Holohan, Dr Ronan Glynn and Professor Philip Nolan at a weekly briefing for journalists on Wednesday evening.

Professor Nolan said on the real numbers: “If we had a proper elastic testing system we’d be reporting 30,000 (new infections) a day.”

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed on Wednesday that the Government has signed off on plans to relax the rules for close contacts of Covid cases.

Professor Philip Nolan warned that the reveal 'real number' of people getting infected by Covid every day is more likely to be 30,000 (Collins Photos)

NPHET had recommended that people who are deemed close contacts but have received a booster vaccination and have no symptoms should no longer have to isolate for five days.

Those who have not received a booster should restrict their movements for seven days. The change comes into force from midnight on Thursday.

In a statement on the change in rules, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said they were "proportionate" to the level of Covid infection and the "impact" it was having.

He also confirmed that NPHET had received "positive" data that suggests that Omicron is a "less severe" form of Covid and sees less people being hospitalised for the virus.

Dr Holohan said: “Today’s changes to the public health management of Covid-19 cases and close contacts are framed in light of available evidence, expert views and the international experience of Covid-19, including the recently published guidance from ECDC.

“The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is continuing to have a significant impact on all areas of our society and economy due to its increased growth advantage compared to Delta.

Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET had received "positive" data that suggests that Omicron is a "less severe" form of Covid (Collins Photos)

"There are some early, positive indicators however, that suggest infection from Omicron results in less severe illness and reduced requirement for care in hospital.

“It is important to note that the changes announced today cover a range of measures from self-isolation and restriction of movements to mask wearing and testing. These measures are more proportionate to the current level of infection and the impact it is having.

"In particular, while we are reducing the requirement to self-isolate and restrict movements for cases and close contacts respectively, we are strengthening guidance relating to mask wearing and reduced social contact for the full ten days following diagnosis or last known close contact.

“These measures are intended to maintain our protection of public health while reducing pressure on the health service and enabling the continued operation of other economic and social sectors in society, including essential services."

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