A further 7,005 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed as figures show Ireland had one of the lowest rates of excess deaths in the EU during the second half of last year.
According to the Department of Health, a further 3,150 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been recorded while 3,855 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.
As of Thursday morning, there were 1,251 patients with Covid-19 in hospital, 56 of which were in ICU.
HSE chief Paul Reid said the situation regarding Covid in hospitals is improving.
There has been a 15 per cent drop in the number of patients in hospitals testing positive for the virus.
However, high case numbers and increased emergency department (ED) attendances are still impacting the health service's ability to cut waiting lists.
"We've had up to 1,600 people in hospital testing Covid positive and that severely impacts us in terms of capacity," Mr Reid told Newstalk.
"Now very thankfully we are down about 15 per cent...but ultimately what we have seen in the past few weeks, along with Covid positive patients, hospital ED attendance is up to record attendance level every week, over 29,000."
Excess mortality rate
Meanwhile, new HIQA analysis shows Ireland's excess mortality during the second half of last year was among the lowest in Europe.
According to HIQA, there were more than 2,000 excess deaths in Ireland since the start of the pandemic.
The figure measures how many more people died between March 2020 and November 2021 than would normally be expected.
The deaths occurred during a seven-week period from late March to mid-May 2020 and during and an eight-week period from early January to late February 2021.
Some 82 per cent of excess deaths were among people over the age of 65.
The health watchdog has said Ireland’s relatively lower proportion of older adults, low population density and vaccination roll-out all helped to reduce the levels of severe disease.