Record 23,281 new Covid-19 cases reported

·3-min read
People arrive at a Covid vaccination centre in Inchicore, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)
People arrive at a Covid vaccination centre in Inchicore, Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

The Department of Health has reported 23,281 new cases of Covid-19 – the highest daily total since the pandemic began.

It is the third day in a row that case numbers have exceeded 20,000.

At 8am on Saturday, there were 656 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 85 were in intensive care.

With the testing system under pressure, health officials said the daily Covid figures underestimate the true number of daily infections.

On New Year’s Day, Dublin’s Mater hospital released a statement urging the public “where possible” not to attend its emergency department because of extreme pressures.

The number of people admitted with Covid-19 combined with a large number of staff off has led to lengthy waiting times.

In a statement, the hospital said: “Where possible, the Mater advises patients with non-emergency conditions to seek assistance from other parts of the health service such as minor injury units or their GP.

“However, any patient who is in need of emergency hospital care will of course be seen and the Mater would urge such patients not to delay and to seek such care.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this causes to the public and thank them for their understanding and cooperation.”

Christmas shoppers in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)
Christmas shoppers in Dublin (Niall Carson/PA) (PA Wire)

The Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys has also confirmed changes to the documentation needed to receive the 350 euro Enhanced Illness Benefit.

In recent days, the Government changed its advice to people seeking a PCR test to confirm they have Covid.

Those aged between four and 39 are being asked to take regular antigen tests if they have symptoms of the virus.

If they receive a positive antigen test, they have been asked to book a PCR test to confirm if they have the virus.

If they have repeated “not detected” antigen tests, they should still self-isolate for 48 hours after their symptoms have gone.

Ms Humphreys said her department will make the necessary changes to the system.

To avail of Enhanced Illness Benefit, the Department of Social Protection will accept confirmation that a member of the public has ordered an antigen test; a text message from the HSE that you are a close contact; certification from your GP that you have symptoms of Covid-19 and/or are a probable source of infection; and a positive PCR test result.

Ms Humphreys said: “With Covid-19 cases rising, I know this is an anxious time for families. That’s why, following discussions between my officials and the HSE, I have introduced new flexibilities to enable customers easier access to Enhanced Illness Benefit.

“As a result of these changes, a person who applies for an antigen test from the HSE can use this proof of application to apply for Enhanced Illness Benefit for the days that they are out of work.

“It’s so important that anyone who receives a positive test or is displaying symptoms self-isolates and follows the public health advice.

“I know that these new flexibilities will give people that peace of mind that my department is here to support them if they become ill or are required to take time off work due to Covid-19.”

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