The Department of Health has confirmed the highest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, reporting 11,182 new cases of the virus on Christmas Eve.
The previous high (8,248 cases) was recorded on January 8th, 2021.
As of 8am this morning, the were 393 patients with the virus in hospital, 89 of whom were being treated in intensive care.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) December 24, 2021
Record daily case counts had been predicted by officials for the coming weeks as the country faces another wave of infections brought on by the Omicron variant.
Although data from the UK suggests Omicron infections have led to fewer hospitalisations, the findings are not yet conclusive and officials are warning that an increase in case numbers will still put a huge amount of pressure of the already fatigued health system.
According to The Irish Times, Ministers and senior officials are expected to meet next week to consider whether further restrictions are needed to control transmission levels over the New Year.
The Government is understood to believe there is no data at present to suggest further restrictions are needed, however, should the epidemiological situation deteriorate rapidly after Christmas, increased measures would likely be enacted quickly.
Although no meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is planned until early next month, officials will be consulting with the Government throughout the coming weeks.
It is understood that contingency plans have been drawn up in recent days, including an exemption for non-healthcare key workers regarding isolation requirements in anticipation of high levels of absenteeism due to the virus.
While it is not yet clear how severe the Omicron wave will be, senior sources agree Ireland is facing a huge wave of infections. Christmas is also expected to impact data reporting, meaning it will likely take several days before a clear picture of the trajectory of the virus emerges.