Ireland could record more than 12,000 Covid-19 cases a day by Christmas, according to a forecast by US academics.
Cases would peak at 12,300 a day in late December before falling again, while a further 2,000 deaths would occur by the start of March, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is based at the University of Washington.
The Irish Times reports that the institute, which has correctly predicted trends earlier in the pandemic, attributes the rise in cases in the Northern Hemisphere to winter seasonality, waning immunity, decreased mask use and increased mobility levels.
A further 5,843 confirmed cases were notified on Friday, the sixth-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
Case numbers in the coming days are likely to remain at such high levels, as the process of clearing a massive backlog of tests is under way.
The total number of confirmed cases, currently at 490,000, is set to pass the half-million mark within days. However, a total of 511,282 positive tests has been recorded.
Friday’s figures include a backlog of about 1,200 cases from the past three days.
There were 549 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Friday morning, up six on the previous day. This included 96 in intensive care, down one.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said Friday’s high figures were another indication of the “very significant increase” in the incidence of the disease across almost all age groups.
Meanwhile, more than 6,000 children and teenagers tested positive for Covid in the first week of November, the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre have shown.
Rising case counts across Europe have forced a rethink on public-health measures by many governments.
The Netherlands has ordered bars, restaurants and non-essential stores to close at 7pm for at least three weeks starting on Saturday. Austria is planning to place millions of unvaccinated people in lockdown.