There were 568 COVID patients in hospital this morning – up 47 on yesterday and 139 on this day last week.
Despite the increase, the number of patients in intensive care has remained at 92, down eight on last week.
Yesterday the Department of Health announced 9,006 new cases; however, there are concerns that backlogs in COVID testing are leaving many cases undiagnosed.
Some 43.5% of the swabs recorded yesterday came back positive, with the percentage hitting 50% the day before.
One week ago, the positivity rate was just 16.8%.
On Late Breakfast this morning, Infectious Diseases Professor Jack Lambert said the rising case numbers are “not all a bad news story”.
“We knew from early on that Omicron was much more infectious and had a selective advantage over the more dangerous Delta – which is good news – and it is much less lethal,” he said.
“So, it is not all a bad news story. The numbers going up is not all a bad news story. It is not impacting on the hospitals in terms of severe illness and ICU admissions like I said but it is much more infectious.”
He said the high case numbers will increase immunity in the population – but called on the Government to do all it can to ramp up the booster programme.
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expects the latest wave of cases to peak in the next week or so.
Leo Varadkar said that, while January will be a difficult month, Ireland was likely to overcome the Omicron wave quicker than previous surges.