Almost half of Ireland’s adult population has received a Covid vaccine booster, the Taoiseach has said.
The update from Micheal Martin came as the HSE warned that Ireland could soon be recording 20,000 confirmed cases a day in a worst case scenario.
Mr Martin said, as of Thursday, 49.9% of the adult population had been boosted, which is 37.4% of the whole population.
“Great work by staff and volunteers in our vaccine centres, GPs and pharmacists,” he tweeted.
HSE chief executive, Paul Reid, said while hospital admission data showed that Ireland was exiting the Delta wave, the recent acceleration of positive case numbers demonstrated that the country was entering an Omicron wave.
“We are entering, unfortunately, an Omicron wave which we know has high transmissibility,” he told RTE Radio One.
“In terms of the number of cases, Nphet (National Public Health Emergency Team) would have done various modelling, they would have outlined to Government potential case numbers from an optimistic scenario of 8,000 per day (to a) pessimistic 20,000.
“So any range within there is the uncertainty level.”
He said the case numbers could be influenced by people getting their booster jabs and also altering their behaviours to minimise risks of being exposed to infection.
A further 7,411 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Ireland on Thursday.
As of 8am on Thursday, 390 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, 98 of whom were in ICU.
Mr Reid said even if Omicron is confirmed as being milder than Delta, huge numbers of infections of the new variant would still result in “severe strain” being put on the hospital system.
Stressing the importance of vaccination, the HSE boss highlighted that 54% of patients in ICU beds in Ireland are unvaccinated, a significantly disproportionate rate given only 6% of the overall population is unvaccinated.
Mr Reid said between 17,000 and 20,000 people were still presenting for first or second doses in Ireland every week.
The Government has taken a number of steps to suppress transmission of the new virus ahead of the predicted January peak in infections.
Since Monday, all restaurants, bars and cafes have had to shut their doors at 8pm.
Indoor events have a limited attendance to 50% of capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is lower.
Outdoor events are also limited to half capacity, to a maximum of 5,000 people.