A further 20,110 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ireland.
While, as of 8.00am Friday, 682 patients are hospitalised with the virus - of which 86 are in ICU.
While the five-day moving average of cases has jumped to 14,567.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says he knows people have again sacrificed a lot.
"Once again, we are reporting another very high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland. The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 is continuing to increase.
"I know many people have cancelled or postponed planned social and family events - not just for News Years Eve, but right throughout the Christmas period.
"The occasions in life we most look forward to have been changed utterly by this pandemic.
"However, these collective efforts are necessary to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our health service."
Dr Holohan says the next month will likely be a difficult time.
"It is timely today to remember all of those who continue to contribute so much to our response to COVID-19, particularly the individual and collective efforts of our frontline healthcare workers who are now facing into a third year of pandemic response.
"In the most challenging of circumstances, they continue to work to protect public health and to maintain access to services across all parts of our health service.
"In the delivery of both COVID and non-COVID services, patients and their families have benefitted from their empathy, skill, and care.
"January will likely be a difficult time and I would like to thank all of our health care workers most sincerely for their efforts."
He says: "We also remember those who have sadly died with COVID-19 in Ireland since the beginning of this pandemic, along with their families and loved ones who are grieving their loss.
"We must all remember that it is our collective, national response and the ongoing and extraordinary sacrifices each one of us is making that will break the chains of transmission, minimise the pressure on our health service, ensure that as few families as possible are similarly impacted in 2022 and lead to brighter days ahead."
And he adds there is hope that 2022 will be a better year.
"2020 was a very challenging year from a COVID point of view. We were dealing with a new disease, with no drugs, no vaccines and no background immunity.
"In 2021, we saw the emergence of vaccines and the extraordinary response of the scientific community internationally to produce them.
"As we look to 2022, there are many reasons for cautious optimism.
"Advances in science and public health including the development of new treatments like antivirals and monoclonal antibodies - and the continued evolution of our understanding of this virus - give us grounds to hope that 2022 may be a better year from a COVID point of view than either 2020 or 2021."
Dr Holohan earlier told Late Breakfast that more restrictions may be placed on the PCR testing system to keep it running.
He said changes around testing, announced on Thursday, will "take a significant burden or pressure off the PCR testing capacity".
However he added: "It may well be the case that we're having to take further measures, because we can't be certain how long this disease is going to continue to increase.
"And so long as it continues to grow at the rates that it's growing, we may have to take further measures to give further prioritisation - if you like - of our PCR testing capacity".