The Department of Health has said an additional 54 people with Covid-19 have died and 1,335 new cases of the virus have been confirmed.

There have now been a total of 3,120 coronavirus-related deaths and 191,182 confirmed cases here.

Fifty of the deaths reported today occurred in January.

The median age of those who died is 85 years of age and the age range is 55-96 years.

As of 2pm, the number of people being treated in intensive care units with Covid-19 was 217, up one on yesterday.

There are 1,670 people with Covid-19 in hospitals across the country.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the current 14-day incidence rate of the disease, which is 674.2 per 100,000 of the population, remains more than double it was during previous Level Five restrictions in October.

He said therefore "now is not the time to drop your guard and start to interact with people outside your household".

"The risk of transmission in the community remains very high. We must continue to work towards reducing incidence of disease and preventing further hospitalisations and deaths," he added.

Earlier, the Health Service Executive said it needs to see the levels of coronavirus positive cases drop at a consistent level, over a consistent period of time, before it can consider reintroducing the automatic testing of close contacts.

It told RTÉ News it was keen to have the measure in place as soon as possible.

The HSE said its capacity is set at 1,500 positive cases a day, for a full contact tracing service and close contact testing.

In Northern Ireland, a further 16 deaths of people with Covid-19 have been recorded, 12 occurring during the  past 24 hours. It takes the official death toll there to 1,779. There were also 527 new cases.


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Meanwhile, the latest operational data from the HSE shows that four hospitals are each dealing with more than 100 Covid patients.

They are St Vincent's University Hospital (119), University Hospital Waterford (118), University Hospital Limerick (115) and Cork University Hospital (112).

Twenty-one other acute hospitals are also treating dozens of Covid patients.

The data from last night showed there were 343 critical care beds open, with 26 critical care beds available.

Twelve acute hospitals were reported as having no ICU capacity left.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said on Twitter it had been exactly a year since his organisation convened a crisis management team for Covid-19.

"There's been so many sad and tough days. We haven't got everything right but there's a lot that we have.

"We will continue to do all we can to protect the public, our patients and our staff," he wrote.

The Government yesterday confirmed that Level 5 restrictions will continue until 5 March. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the message for the next six weeks is very simple: stay at home, do not travel, do not make any journeys outside your 5km, unless you absolutely have to. 

He said the hospitals are under enormous pressure and health workers must be protected. 

Speaking at a briefing this morning, Assistant Secretary at the Department of the Taoiseach Liz Canavan said the 5km rule does not apply to anyone escaping from a risk of harm or seeking to access an essential service. 

Additional reporting Fergal Bowers and Laura Hogan