Ireland has the seventh highest rate of daily Covid-19 cases in the world, beaten only by six microstates and small island nations.
According to Our World In Data’s tracking of daily new confirmed cases per million people, Ireland has a seven-day rolling average of 4,020 cases – far above the European Union average of 1,520.
Despite the EU nations of France and Italy recording in excess of 200,000 new daily cases, their larger populations mean their rate of new Covid cases per million people is 3,060 and 2,350 respectively.
South Africa, the nation which first identified the Omicron variant now responsible for record infections around the world, is recording a rate of just 138 daily confirmed cases per million people after declaring itself past the peak of its latest wave.
The only locations to top Ireland in the table are Aruba, the Isle of Man, Cyprus, Curacao, Andorra and San Marino – all small island nations or microstates.
Aruba, a small Caribbean island with a population of just over 100,000 people, is currently recording the highest average daily cases relative to its population in the world, with a rate of 7,380 cases per million people.
The British Isle of Man – not a member of the United Kingdom – is in second place, with 7,310 cases per million people.
Next is the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, with an average of 4,840 new daily cases per million people, followed by the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao, with 4,580 cases per million people.
Just above Ireland are the European microstates of Andorra, with 4,550 daily cases per million people, and San Marino, with 4,360 cases per million people.
Both the United Kingdom and the United States are recording daily rates of the virus markedly lower than Ireland's, with 2,660 and 1,810 daily cases per million people respectively.
Last night, Ireland confirmed a record 23,817 cases – the highest reported in a single day here since the pandemic began.
The figure broke a previous high of 23,281 daily cases, recorded less than a week ago on January 1st.
Despite the record-breaking case numbers, the National Public Health Emergency Team has recommended that the Government impose no new restrictions to curb the surge in infections driven by the Omicron variant.
The State’s public health team met on Thursday to review the epidemiological situation in Ireland and recommended a continuance of current measures, potentially until the end of the month.
Cases and hospitalisations
The Taoiseach has said that levels of Covid infection remain "unprecedented" in the State and the coming days will provide further evidence on the severity of illness arising from the Omicron variant.
Officials have been told that hundreds of thousands of cases of Omicron have not been captured in official Covid figures since early December. It is understood that at least 380,000 cases, and possibly as many as 500,000, have not been officially recorded.
This comes as the PCR testing system is under major pressure. High rates of test positivity, which have been around 50 per cent, are seen as an indicator that many cases are going undetected, with the level of infection higher than that which the testing system can accommodate.
Although the number of people in hospital with the virus has risen sharply, it has stabilised below 1,000 inpatients in recent days. Politicians have said the fact that the number of people in intensive care has remained relatively stable is a positive sign.
As of this morning, there were 936 patients hospitalised with the virus, with 84 being treated in intensive care – a drop of six since Thursday.