The latest Covid-19 data suggests Ireland can feel “great hope”, Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid has said.

Mr Reid said on Saturday that “a consistent set of Covid-19 trends give great hope”.

He added that the number of people in hospital with the virus has fallen to 940.

The number of people in hospital had risen above 1,000 in recent days, prompting concern among health officials.

Mr Reid tweeted: “Fewer patients on oxygen support. GP referrals & overall cases down.

“Booster vaccines and the public’s response have so far eased the worst impacts.”

He again urged people to get a booster jab.

A further 14,555 positive cases of Covid-19 were notified in Ireland through PCR testing on Saturday.

On January 14, an additional 5,406 positive antigen tests were also recorded by the HSE.

A portal for uploading antigen test results opened on Friday.

As of Saturday, there were 89 Covid-positive patients in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “As people get familiar with the latest public health advice on isolation and restriction of movements for cases and close contacts, the importance of other protective measures should not be disregarded.

“In particular, this latest guidance places an increased emphasis on the use by cases and close contacts of higher-grade face masks, as opposed to cloth masks.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said on Friday that he was hopeful Covid-19 restrictions could be removed at the end of the month, allowing events and the hospitality sector to open after 8pm.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is meeting next Thursday and will advise Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on current restrictions.

Mr Martin said the country is making progress against the Omicron variant.

“I would hope that we would be in a position to move forward in terms of the current restrictions but I’m not in a position yet to say anything definitive about that,” he said on Friday.

“I want to really see what the public health people are saying, and also having a sense of where Omicron is.”

Since Friday, close contacts who have had their booster jab and do not have any symptoms no longer have to isolate.

They have been advised to wear higher grade masks and to continue taking regular antigen tests.



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