Failure to contain Covid-19 third wave will cost lives warns Dr Tony Holohan

3,000 new cases over Christmas but Dr Tony Holohan expects a larger rise going into 2021

Conor Ganly


Conor Ganly


coronavirus covid-19

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health in Ireland

A big rise in Covid-19 is on the cards heading into 2021 because of a lower volume of testing over Christmas Dr Tony Holohan has warned who renewed his appeal to the public to stay at home to contain the third wave or face a rise in deaths and more people becoming seriously ill.

While 3,000 new cases emerged over Christmas, Ireland's Chief Medical Officer and Head of the National Public Health Emergency Team said the daily situation is set to worsen as 2021 begins.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of hospitalisations in the last two weeks from less than 190 to 324 today. This indicates a deteriorating disease trajectory nationally and is a significant reminder of the severity of this disease.”

“There have been further increases across key indicators of COVID-19 right across the country and the growth rate of the epidemic has accelerated in recent days.”

“Due to the lower volume of tests being carried out over Christmas Day and yesterday, we believe there are higher levels of disease circulating in the community than today’s reported case numbers reflect. We expect, therefore, to see a large increase in cases reported over the coming days,” he said.

Dr Holohan reminded the public that failure to contain the third wave the price will be paid in lives.

“If we do not act now to stop the spread of COVID-19, we will not be able to protect those in our society that are most at risk of serious illness or death.

 “Stay home, do not visit " or family unless you are providing essential care and do not have visitors to your home. Follow the public health advice,” he said.

A total of 3,364 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to 8 am Sunday. Nearly 106,000 tests have been completed in the past seven days with 6% of people testing positive in the past week. 

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has warned that test and tracing have reached alarming levels.

Figures also show that 12 people died between Christmas Eve and December 27 when the total deaths had reached 2,204. The figures for new cases for the same few days show a rise of 3,056. The total on December 27 had reached 86,129.

Vaccination is set to begin on December 29 but Ireland has only enough vaccines to protect 5,000 people. The 10,000 vaccines that are storage must be given over 14 days in two doses. 

People living in nursing homes and staff will be the first on the list.