Stormont's Department of Health has said 78,005 people in Northern Ireland have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Of those, 13,949 have also received a second dose.

Care home residents account for most of this group, with 55% of residents receiving a second dose.

Of those vaccinated, 9,341 received the jab from their GP.

Last Friday, Our World in Data - a research website affiliated with Oxford University - said Northern Ireland had achieved the fourth highest vaccination rate in the world, with 2.5 doses administered for every 100 of population.

There are currently 736 people with the virus in hospitals across Northern Ireland, which is an increase of 33 since yesterday.

Of those, 52 are in ICU, 37 of whom are on ventilators.

A further 16 people with Covid-19 have died in Northern Ireland, 15 of which occurred within the past 24 hours, the health department has confirmed.

It takes Northern Ireland's total number of virus-related deaths to 1,476.

An additional 759 cases were also confirmed - a fall of just over 350 on yesterday's number.

The department of health said the total number of Covid-19 hospital admissions in Northern Ireland over the last seven days has risen to 488, compared with 425 the previous week.

The number of daily admissions of confirmed cases is around double what it was at the height of the peak last spring.

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Northern Ireland is currently experiencing its pandemic worst case scenario, the Deputy First Minister has warned.

Michelle O'Neill said dire predictions made last March about the potential pressures the region's health service could face were now coming true.

Ms O'Neill said that while Northern Ireland had now passed the peak of new infections in the current Covid-19 wave, the associated surge in hospital admissions was still to come.

Her stark assessments came after health chiefs warned that the number of Covid-19 patients being treated in hospital could double by the third week in January.

Northern Ireland's hospital network came under intense pressure at the weekend, with two health trusts being forced to issue appeals to off duty staff to report in to work.

The situation was most extreme in the Southern Trust area, where Covid-19 infection rates are currently highest in Northern Ireland.

Over the weekend, Craigavon Area Hospital and Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry were in danger of being swamped with new cases.

Off duty staff coming in to help treat the influx of patients helped avoid the declaration of a major incident.

Enniskillen's South West Acute hospital in the Western Trust area also asked off duty staff to report into work in case there was a need to start receiving inpatients from the Southern Trust.

Patient diversions to Enniskillen were ultimately not required.

"I think the developments over the weekend whilst they were predicted are still very stark and very alarming," said Ms O'Neill.

"We are at the extreme of the pandemic right now. This is the worst situation that we have been in from the very onset.

"I think we're now witnessing this scenario which was predicted to be the worst case scenario way back in the early part of March last year but now it's a real lived experience."

Ms O'Neill told BBC Radio Ulster that she could not rule out a potential extension of the region's current lockdown which is due to end in the first week of February. She said all options remained on the table.

"All of the predictions indicate that we've probably reached the peak in this wave of the number of new cases," she said. "But we certainly haven't reached the peak yet in terms of the pressure on the health service.

"And the next number of weeks is going to be a huge, huge effort from all those people who work in the health service on the frontline."

First Minister Arlene Foster said the situation was "very concerning".

"If you look at the number of positive cases whilst they are still too high they have gone down from the peak of what you will recall was over 2,000 cases and yesterday I think we had 1,112 positive cases," she told Radio Ulster.

"So while the cases are still high, the assessment is that we are past the peak of cases but of course then there is a lag then in terms of hospital admissions and that is very concerning to see that we are now at 703 Covid inpatients in our hospitals."

Additional reporting PA