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Virulent-less Over 9,000 new Covid-19 cases confirmed with positivity rate of 43pc

Hospitalisations have also risen, with 60 more coronavirus patients admitted in the past day and one more in intensive care.

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A further 9,006 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by the Department of Health today.

Hospitalisations have also risen, with 60 more coronavirus patients admitted in the past day and one more in intensive care.

As of 8am today, 521 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of whom 92 are in ICU.

The positivity rate in the community remains high. Of the 24,940 swabs reported today, 43.52pc came back as positive.

However, this is lower than yesterday which reported and almost 50pc positivity rate.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid was asked on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland if the high positivity rate was because only those very likely to be positive went for testing on Christmas Day and St Stephen's Day.

However, he said it’s too early to know if this is the case or if the Omicron variant is just extremely transmissible.

“What it does tell us is how rampant it is in the community, if we can all think back we were talking about what happens when it gets to 3pc or 5pc levels of positivity what actions we trigger so we have moved well beyond that now,” he said.

"There is a peak at some stage and we aren’t at that by any stretch just yet, but we don’t know we are at the early stages.

“What we expected is happening because it does accelerate quite quickly, we know it transmits five times quicker than Delta and that's exactly what's happening in the community.”

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