Mortuaries have been put under unprecedented pressure following a rise in the number of deaths.
Analysis of RIP.ie carried out by the Irish Examiner found there were more than 9,700 death notices published between December 1st and January 25th.
That is up 20 per cent compared to the same time last year.
The rise has resulted in capacity issues at Cork City Morgue, with bodies having to be stored in hospitals overnight.
The figure of 9,700 is also considerably higher than the 8,135 death notices published in the same period to January 25th, 2021, when the country was in the grip of the worst period of the Covid pandemic.
Pre-pandemic, 6,802 death notices were published in the eight weeks to January 25th, 2019, almost 3,000 fewer than in recent weeks.
“Between the 19th of December and the 3rd of January, over 100 deaths were reported to my office,” Philip Comyn, coroner for Cork city.
This is the most ever reported for this length of time, surpassing even the busiest period during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The mortuary [at Cork University Hospital] had so many bodies it couldn’t take any more and the other Cork hospitals held onto their bodies overnight.”
Ivan Perry, of UCC School of Epidemiology and Public Health, said flu and other respiratory illnesses may be the reason for the alarming spike in deaths.
“It could also be that people are slightly more vulnerable post-Covid because there is a post-Covid elevated risk of heart disease for example, so that could be contributing to it as well.”
An analysis of RIP.ie shows there were 1,092 deaths in Cork alone from December 1st, 2022, to January 25th, 2023 — an increase of 16.4 per cent from a year earlier.
Death notices were at 1,007 in the December 2020 to January 2021 period, with numbers as low as 786 for the same period up to January 2019.