The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has reached more than 1,200, the latest Department of Health figures show.
A record 1,285 patients are in hospital with the disease, up 134 on Friday.
The figure is now four times higher than a fortnight ago when 321 people were in hospital with the virus on December 27th.
Some 119 people with coronavirus are being treated in intensive care units (ICU), up from 107 on Friday evening.
There have been 14 admissions to ICUs in the past 24 hours.
It comes as a record daily total of 8,248 confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded in Ireland on Friday, along with 20 further deaths – the highest figure since May.
Hospital staff are bracing themselves for a surge in coronavirus patients as the number of cases escalate.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the priority must be protecting more people from getting sick as the numbers of people being taken to hospital with the virus will continue to rise.
There’s now 1,285 people being treated in hospital (+ 134 on yesterday) with #COVID19 & 107 in ICU. For now, it will rise more. Saving lives & protecting more people getting sick is our priority. But, in time, the huge sacrifices everyone is making will work. Thank you. @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 9, 2021
He tweeted: “There’s now 1,285 people being treated in hospital (+ 134 on yesterday) with Covid19 & 107 in ICU.
“For now, it will rise more. Saving lives & protecting more people getting sick is our priority. But, in time, the huge sacrifices everyone is making will work. Thank you.”
Nphet estimates 2,200 people could be in hospital…
Ireland’s coronavirus reproduction number is now between 2.4 and 3, the highest level seen throughout the pandemic.
Friday saw three cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 discovered in Ireland.
There are fears that the mutated form of coronavirus could be resistant to vaccines, although public health chiefs here say there is not enough information to determine that.