Astonishing number of Irish people test positive for Covid-19 as testing rockets and UK variant spreads in third wave

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

coronavirus covid-19

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

An astonishing number of people in Ireland have tested positive for Covid-19 since Christmas Day according to figures which show the rate and number of cases is rising massively as the labs continue to try and clear a backlog as the UK variant spread rapidly.

Figures published by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) show that nearly a quarter of people who are going for tests are confirmed as having the virus. More than 45,000 tests have been positive for the virus since December 25. 

The highest positivity rate to date was reported on January 5 when 6,862 swabs tested positive from a phenomenal 28,368 tests processed here in just one day. A total of 5,325 cases were confirmed on January 5. The positivity rate was 24.2% which is nearly five times the pandemic average since testing began last year.

A massive 7,836 cases were confirmed in Ireland as the Government announced school closures and other tighter restrictions on January 6. It drove the incidence in Ireland to 819.1 per 100,000 population on the back of 39,005 in just 14 days.

The number of tests processed and positive results returned as well as the positivity rate is not published for January 6.

Tests are now only being carried out on people with symptoms with close contacts being told to self-isolate. This could mean the number of cases in Ireland at present could be much higher than the actual number reported.

Latest testing figures show that 171,931 tests were carried out in the seven days to January 6. Ireland orignally planned to have a 100,000 a week testing capacity. More than 272,000 tests have been processed since January 23. Test requests began to spike in the days before December 25.

A phenomenal 28,368 tests were carried out in the 24 hours to January 6.

More than 2.5 million tests have been carried out since last March and the average positivity rate is now 5.4%.

Figures published by the HSE January 6 show that there were 921 confirmed cases in hospitals with 88 in ICU departments.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, rang the alarm bell with the highly transmissible UK variant now spreading.

“The country is in a serious phase of this surge of COVID-19. There is evidence of an increasing presence of the UK variant in Ireland. All counties have an upward trajectory of the disease. There is concerning escalation of admissions to hospital and ICU. We are very likely to see escalating mortality and ICU admissions in the coming days and weeks.

“It has never been more important, throughout our experience of this pandemic, to stay home and only meet people outside of your household for essential purposes, always adhering to public health advice; physical distance, hand hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, wearing a face covering,” he said in the daily statement on January 6.

The following table is published by NPHET to show both positive tests and confirmed cases in the latest 14-day period. Normally, the number of confirmed cases reported on a given day correlates with the number of positive tests the preceding day, allowing for validation and removal of duplicates.

Once the delays that have arisen in recent days have been resolved, NPHET says it will no longer report the laboratory test results.