Health officials braced for high Covid cases as testing centres fully reopen

Testing centres across the State fully reopened after some were closed or scaled back over the Christmas period.
Health officials braced for high Covid cases as testing centres fully reopen

By Dominic McGrath, PA

Health officials are expecting large Covid-19 case numbers to be reported over the coming days.

Testing centres across the State fully reopened after some were closed or scaled back over the Christmas period.

The HSE has also fully reopened vaccination centres.

A further 6,735 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the Republic on Monday.

The latest figures show that 461 Covid-19 patients are in hospital, 91 of whom are in intensive care.

The overall positivity rate, among all swabs taken, was nearly 50 per cent.

Health officials believe that 87 per cent of reported cases are now due to the Omicron variant.

The Department of Health tweeted that it was anticipating “large volumes of case numbers over the coming period”.

Earlier HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted: “Well done to all of our vaccination teams. Back at it.

“It’s never too late to receive your 1st dose vaccine. And please take the earliest opportunity to receive your booster.”

The Republic already has a range of restrictions in place, amid concerns about the spread of the Omicron variant.

All restaurants, bars and cafes have had to shut their doors at 8pm. Indoor events have a limited attendance to 50 per cent of capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.

Outdoor events are also limited to half capacity, to a maximum of 5,000 people.

Restrictions in North

Meanwhile, new measures to tackle Covid have come into effect in Northern Ireland.

The new rules, agreed by the Executive parties last week, are designed to suppress rising case numbers amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

A maximum of six people can be seated together in a bar or restaurant, with table service only permitted.

Customers will only be allowed to move between toilets or to the till.

Under the new measures, people are also being asked to limit their social contacts, with the public being advised that only three households should mix together in a private home.

Employers and employees are also being asked to work from home where possible, with two-metre social distancing a requirement in any office setting.

Nightclubs in the North had already been ordered to close from St Stephen’s Day, with indoor standing events no longer permitted.

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