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Chief medical officer Tony Holohan urged people to ‘keep your contacts low and avoid crowds’ and to meet outside if possible. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
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Ireland could record more than 12,000 Covid-19 cases a day by Christmas, according to a forecast by US academics.
Cases would peak at 12,300 a day in late December before falling again, while a further 2,000 deaths would occur by the start of March, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), which is based at the University of Washington.
The institute, which has correctly predicted trends earlier in the pandemic, attributes the rise in cases in the northern hemisphere to winter seasonality, waning immunity, decreased mask use and increased mobility levels.
A further 5,843 confirmed cases were notified on Friday, the sixth-highest daily total since the start of the pandemic.
Case numbers in the coming days are likely to remain at such high levels, as the process of clearing a massive backlog of tests is under way.
The total number of confirmed cases, currently at 490,000, is set to pass the half-million mark within days. However, a total of 511,282 positive tests has been recorded.
Friday’s figures include a backlog of about 1,200 cases from the past three days.
There were 549 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Friday morning, up six on the previous day. This included 96 in intensive care, down one.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said Friday’s high figures were another indication of the “very significant increase” in the incidence of the disease across almost all age groups.
He said vaccination remained extraordinarily effective against severe disease, with the vast majority of people with Covid-19 experiencing mild symptoms.
“However, the outcome for any one individual who is diagnosed with Covid-19 is uncertain and it remains vital that we all continue to adhere to the public-health advice in order to protect ourselves and our families.
“As we look ahead to the weekend, we need to continue to make every effort we can to drive down incidence of disease and break the chains of transmission,” Dr Holohan said. “Before you leave the house, think about the number of people you are going to meet, and the risk associated with the activities you have planned.”
He urged people to “keep your contacts low and avoid crowds” and to meet outside if possible.
“If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, you should assume that you have this virus, self-isolate immediately and arrange a test. Do not assume that it’s just a cough or a cold.”
Meanwhile, more than 6,000 children and teenagers tested positive for Covid-19 in the first week of November, the latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre have shown.
Rising case counts across Europe have forced a rethink on public-health measures by many governments.
The Netherlands has ordered bars, restaurants and non-essential stores to close at 7pm for at least three weeks starting on Saturday. Austria is planning to place millions of unvaccinated people in lockdown.
Everything you need to know about the Covid-19 outbreak
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