The death toll in Ireland from Covid-19 has surpassed 3,000 today as the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has confirmed 90 additional Covid-related deaths.
The total number of deaths now stands at 3,066.
Speaking this evening, the Chief Medical Officer said: "This highly infectious disease is having a severe impact on the most vulnerable in our society and we must continue the good work we are doing to suppress it."
Of the deaths announced today, 89 occurred in January.
Of the 90 people who lost their lives, the youngest was aged 48 and the oldest was 99 years old.
The HPSC has also been notified of 928 confirmed cases of the virus.
According to the latest data, there have been more cases of Covid-19 reported so far this month than in all of 2020.
"Indeed, public health doctors in the Midlands reported a total of 4,000 cases in the first 8 months of 2020 and another 4,000 cases in the first four weeks of 2021."
Dr Holohan said the decline in daily incidence of Covid-19 has begun but the volume of disease in the community remains "very high".
"The downturn in incidence has been achieved through the determination of people across the country to stay at home, to work from home and to avoid meeting and socialising with others.
"It is imperative that everyone continues to strictly adhere to the public health advice to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this highly-infectious disease."
Six additional cases linked to the South African variant have been identified through an enhanced public health surveillance programme.
All cases are being followed up by public health teams in line with the latest ECDC guidance published on January 21.
Of the cases notified today, 257 are in Dublin, 115 in Cork, 71 in Louth, 53 in Galway and 45 in Limerick. The remaining 387 cases are spread across all other counties.
As of 2pm this afternoon, there are 1,750 Covid-19 patients in hospitals around the country. Of these, 216 are in ICU.
There have been 65 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
There has been a significant drop in the number of close contacts of those who test positive for the coronavirus.
That is according to one contact tracer who says the reduction has been noticeable since Christmas.
Colm O'Reilly works for the HSE and is appealing to the public to answer calls they receive as the battle continues to suppress the virus.
He says there has been an improvement in the number of close contacts of a confirmed case.
"The average number of contacts post-Christmas was on average per positive case over seven people. Each positive case had seven close contacts.
"The latest number I had was an average of 1.7 close contacts per positive case which is a fantastic improvement."
Less than 6% of Covid-19 swabs analysed in Irish labs yesterday were positive.
It is the lowest rate since Christmas Eve.
There were 16,520 swabs analysed yesterday and only 953 were Covid positive.
That is a positivity rate of 5.77%.
The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 currently stands at 721.1. There are currently two counties with an incidence rate above 1,000 - Monaghan (1,475.9) and Louth (1,139).
The seven-day incidence nationally is 273.8 and the five-day moving average is 1,591.
Today's figures come as the Taoiseach has announced that Ireland will remain in Level 5 lockdown until at least March 5.
The continuation of the Covid-19 public health measures will see non-essential retail, schools, pubs and construction sites remain closed for the time being as cases of the virus remain high across the community.
Schools, however, may open on a phased basis starting next month.
Cabinet has also agreed that all those coming from South Africa and Brazil, where Covid variants have been found, will face mandatory quarantine when entering the country for no less than five days.
The requirement for others to isolate for two weeks when coming into the country will no longer be advisory and will be punishable by fines or imprisonment.
Those arriving without a negative PCR test will be hit with a fine of up to €2,500 or six months in prison, as well as two weeks' mandatory hotel quarantine.
The Taoiseach said that the restrictions were being made in a bid to "crush the virus" and urged people to "stay home".
Ireland’s target remains to vaccinate every adult in the country by September, despite disruptions to the supply chain, the Seanad has heard.
Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte, speaking on behalf of the Health Minister, said the Government has “significant concerns” that one vaccine producer, AstraZeneca, will be unable to meet its initial delivery commitments.
This has led to some “adjustments” to the Government’s target of vaccinating 700,000 people by the end of March, Minister Rabbitte said.
The goal of vaccinating all adults by September remains the Government’s target, but is contingent on steady flow of vaccines.
Meanwhile, another EU body has added to the pressure on AstraZeneca to deliver shipments of the Covid-19 vaccine on time, as the director of the European Medicine Agency said she hopes the problem will be “short-lived”.
Speaking to an EU parliamentary committee, Emer Cooke also said studies have shown existing vaccines offer protection against the UK variant of the virus, and possibly against the South African variant.