Until last week, the third wave of the epidemic had struck harder in the United Kingdom than in this country. The incidence of new cases, relative to population, was about three time higher in the UK. That position has now altered and the recent case numbers, relative to population, have been about the same in Ireland as in the UK, when account is taken of the measurement problems. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the crisis that has already emerged in UK hospitals will be replicated here. In both countries, the gamble was that countermeasures could be relaxed over the holiday period and that gamble has come unstuck.

The Government delayed its response to advice from NPHET and there are fears that hospital admissions will overwhelm the capacity of the system with inevitable consequences for COVID-19 patients and those suffering from other ailments. These are already back down the queue, displaced by the immediate priority of dealing with those suffering severely from the virus.