DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland reports the first decrease in hospital admissions since the surge in the Omicron Delta virus.
Health officials said the number of coronavirus patients in Irish hospitals fell week-on-week for the first time since the start of the spread of the Omicron variant.
In December, patients infected with Omicron caused a record high number of hospitalizations.
However, with hospitalizations falling, there is talk that Covid restrictions will begin to be lifted shortly.
Further, ministers said this week that they hope restrictions on bars, restaurants, hotels and entertainment might be eased soon, as they closely monitor hospital admissions.
As of January 16, there were 965 Covid-19 patients in hospitals, a drop from 984 one week earlier, and the peak of 1,063 in December, the health department said.
Just over one year ago, at the height of the pandemic, Ireland's hospitals saw a high of 2,000 admissions nationwide.
Of note, the number of patients in critical care units remained stable throughout the Omicron wave, and stood at 88 on January 16, compared to 221 this time last year.
Also, overall case numbers have been falling nationwide over the last week, health department data indicates.
"I'm very keen to see the reopening happen at an ambitious pace over the next few weeks," Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told national broadcaster RTE.
In December, nightclubs were closed and indoor events saw their seating capacities reduced.
Varadkar has said repeatedly that restrictions would likely be eased on a phased basis.