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latest figures Dr Tony Holohan warns 'we have a long way to go' as highest ever number of deaths reported

The Department of Health confirmed 83 of the 101 deaths recorded today happened in January, while 18 people have died this month so far.


Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

CHIEF medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned Ireland still has "a long way to go" in halting the spread of Covid-19 as the highest ever number of deaths was reported this evening.

The Department of Health confirmed 83 of the 101 further deaths recorded today happened in January, while 18 people have died this month so far.

This brings the death toll to 3,418.

The median age of those who died is 85 years and the age range is 19 to 103 years.

Dr Holohan said the spike in mortality is due to the high levels of transmission that occured after the festive period.

“This is the highest number of deaths we have reported on any single day of the Covid-19 pandemic so far," he said.

"The high mortality we are experiencing as a country at the moment is related to the surge of infection we saw several weeks ago, and the hospitalisations and admissions to ICU that followed as a direct result.

“Although we have seen great improvement in the level of infection being reported, we have a long way to go and incidence needs to decline much further.

"The best way to honour those who have died from Covid-19, and those who loved them or provided care for them, is to follow the public health advice. Stay at home unless absolutely necessary, and encourage your friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

“What we can have control over today is the outlook of this disease in the weeks to come. Your positive actions matter, and they add up at a collective level. Please keep it up.”

There is now an additional 879 cases of the virus in Ireland, bringing the total to 198,424.

Of the cases notified today, 383 are in Dublin, 79 in Cork, 53 in Galway, 40 in Limerick, 43 in Meath and the remaining 290 cases are spread across 20 other counties.

There are currently 1,388 Covid-19 patients in hospital, 207 of which are in ICU.

It comes as the Oireachtas Health Committee heard today that more than 1,500 people in nursing homes have died with Covid-19.

A total of 1,543 staff and residents in care homes have lost their lives during the pandemic – 369 in the last month alone.

During the third wave of the pandemic, the number of Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes has increased fivefold, from 34 in mid-December to 193 by the end of January.

Some 81pc of all coronavirus-linked deaths in healthcare settings in Ireland have been in nursing homes.

A total of 4,300 positive cases were recorded in nursing homes during January, 37pc of them healthcare workers.

Questions were raised about the rollout of vaccines in nursing homes by the chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadhg Daly.

He asked if a “critical window of opportunity” had been missed by not initiating a widespread rollout of vaccines in nursing homes as soon as the first doses arrived in the country.

He said: “With nursing home residents the most susceptible to the virus, just 10% of the initial 77,000 vaccinations administered by mid-January were within nursing homes.

“It is appropriate to remind that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee agreed nursing home residents and staff would be priority.

“The first vaccines arrived in Ireland on 26th December, yet the first was only administered in a private or voluntary nursing home on 7th January 2021.

“Every day is vital for our nursing home residents and staff.”

Mr Daly said the entire health service is under “immense strain”, with staffing levels the “predominant emergency”.

Some 1,800 nursing home staff are unable to work due to the virus, he added.

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