There have been 77 more coronavirus-related deaths reported by the Department of the Health, with 76 of these occurring this month.

The median age of those who died is 84 years and the age range is from 43 to 98 years old.

There have now been 2,947 Covid-19 related deaths since the outbreak began last year.

The department has also reported 1,910 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 186,184.

It said 57% of the confirmed cases are in people under the age of 45, while the median age of confirmed cases is 40.

In a regional breakdown, 710 of the cases are in Dublin, with 150 in Cork, 103 in Meath, 102 in Limerick and 86 in Louth. The remaining 759 cases are spread across all other counties.

There are 1,892 people with the virus being treated in hospital, with 217 of those receiving treatment in intensive care units.

The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has fallen to 955.5. The highest rate is in Co Monaghan (1,787.1) and the lowest rate is in Co Leitrim (318.3).

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said that "through the solidarity shown by families and communities across the country in recent weeks, we are beginning to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infection."

The level of Covid-19 infections in Irish hospitals is "out of control", the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said.

The union is calling for upgraded safety standards "immediately" to bring the situation under control.

In a statement, the INMO said that nearly 2,000 healthcare workers have caught Covid-19 over two weeks in outbreaks directly traced to their workplaces.

They said that between 6 and 19 January there have been 5,403 reported healthcare workers infected with the virus, with 1,957 confirmed as having been infected in a healthcare setting.

The union has called for a number of measures, including a national requirement that high-standard FFP2 masks be used in all healthcare settings instead of basic surgical masks.

It is also calling for the distance between beds to be increased from 1 metre to 2m and for regular testing for all staff in healthcare settings on a rolling basis.

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INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha has said the union "should not have to campaign for basic safety measures in our hospitals, yet we are seeing precious little progress from the HSE".

She said the infection rates are "directly harming frontline staff and depleting rosters".

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon, she said they have been advised that vaccines for frontline healthcare workers who have not yet been vaccinated will be delayed.

She said nurses are facing huge risks going into these settings and getting infected.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said: "They are going right into the eye of this storm. They have to have more protections than what is there currently. This is not an issue the health service can play around with."

She said local managers have written to nursing staff that masks will not be provided to them.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said they are so frustrated with the delay in protecting nurses' health and have delivered a complaint to the Health and Safety Authority.

Speaking on the same programme, Chief Clinical Officer at the HSE Dr Colm Henry said the rate of Covid infections "are of control".

Dr Henry said: "We have learned that high levels of community transmission will inevitably lead to infections in hospital settings."

He said despite their best measures it is "impossible" to keep it out.

Outlining the severity of the situation across intensive care units, he said: "We are going right into that surge capacity".

Social Democrats Co-leader Róisín Shortall said the Covid-19 crisis must be regarded as a "national emergency".

Also speaking on the same programme she said: "What government has been doing over recent months is not working and we need to take a new approach."

She said we need stricter lockdowns and we need to have a longer-term plan.

Ms Shortall said rolling lockdowns are not working and we cannot operate on a four-week schedule .

She said: "I believe very firmly is that it has to be a zero Covid approach."

Meanwhile the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has fallen slightly.