Ireland will see another surge in Covid-19 infections in four to six weeks, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO's special envoy on Covid-19 Dr David Nabarro said hospitals may face “quite a lot of illness” again as case numbers trend upwards once more.
There will continue to be new surges every three months, he said.
“We’ve actually been going down in terms of numbers around the world for the last four to six weeks,” Dr Nabarro said.
“I think it will pick up again in about another four to six weeks and there’ll be another surge. There will be a surge in Ireland as well as in the British isles, and that may lead to quite a lot of illness in hospitals again.”
Ireland logged 12 deaths and 2,837 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, with 1,236 infections confirmed by PCR test while 1,601 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal.
The number of patients in hospital with the virus has dropped by more than two thirds this month, with 477 people hospitalised at present - compared to nearly 1,500 at the start of April. There are 33 people in intensive care.
During the latest surge in March, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said under-reporting meant the true number of cases each week was likely “several hundred thousand”.
While politicians did not move to reinstate restrictions or ramp up the test and trace system in response to the spread of the disease, the surge prompted calls for greater use of face masks and a halt to elective care as hospitals faced a “chaotic” situation.
Ireland’s handling of the pandemic was criticised by the WHO at the time, which said the country lifted restrictions “brutally” from “too much, to too few”.
It comes as the European Union is set to move away from the emergency phase of the pandemic, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
The European Commission is set to say the EU has entered a new post-emergency phase of the pandemic in which testing should be targeted and monitoring of Covid-19 cases should be similar to sample-based flu surveillance, it said.
The shift comes amid the gradual drop of cases and a fall in the number of deaths linked to Covid-19, thanks to the spread of the less virulent Omicron variant and the immunisation of over 70 per cent of the EU population, with half of the population also having received a booster shot.