Just under 200 deaths with Covid-19 were recorded in June, as Ireland experiences another wave of the virus with previous protection from reinfection "gone".
195 deaths were notified this month up to Wednesday, June 29th, bringing the total number of deaths linked to the virus to 7,499.
A total of 31,224 new cases were recorded in the latest week up to Wednesday, made up of 13,584 confirmed cases and 17,640 positive antigen test results notified to the HSE.
However, the true number of cases is likely to be higher with PCR testing restricted to those considered at risk of severe disease. The positivity rate of PCR testing now stands at 36.6 per cent.
With hospitalisations providing a clearer picture of the disease’s spread, the latest figures show 798 Covid-19 patients in hospitals around the country, with 33 in intensive care.
It comes as earlier this week, the HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said Ireland is in the middle of another wave of Covid-19 driven by Omicron subvariants of the virus.
The BA4 and BA5 subvariants now account for 90 per cent of cases and previous protection from reinfection is now gone, Dr Henry told RTÉ radio’s News at One on Wednesday.
Previously, people who had contracted the virus had a natural immunity from reinfection, but this does not apply to the new subvariants, he warned.
The virus is no longer seasonal, but “a virus for all seasons”, he said. While vaccination offers long term protection against serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU and death, hospitals are already under “considerable pressure”, he added.
Speaking later on RTÉ’s Six One News, Dr Henry said the number of staff testing positive in acute hospital settings was rising. There were almost 600 staff absent from acute hospitals due to Covid-19 and almost 200 in the community sector, he said.
“It’s the end of June, it’s mid-summer, and yet we’re seeing hospital pressures that we usually only see in December and January and that is worrying,” he said.
“The only predictable thing we know about this particular virus is how unpredictable it has been over the last few years.”