Ireland is beginning to turn the corner in tackling its most damaging wave of COVID-19, but a surge in cases has left hospitals “beyond strain”, senior health officials said.
Irish officials said on Monday that a “tsunami” of cases highlighted by Prime Minister Micheál Martin last week had infected one in 76 people in the last 14 days.
However, tentative signs of improvement identified late last week appear to be taking hold, COVID-19 modelling chief Philip Nolan told a news briefing, pointing to a stabilisation in new cases and a drop in the positive test rate to 18.5% from 23%.
“It does look like we are beginning to turn a corner… (But) we still have a long way to go,” Nolan said.
Officials say the fastest-growing incidence rate in the European Union was fuelled by the relaxation of restrictions ahead of Christmas and the increasing prevalence of the new more transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in England.
The variant was present in almost half of the most recent sample of cases that underwent additional testing, the head of Ireland’s national virus laboratory, Cillian De Gascun, said.