DUBLIN, Jan. 13 (CNA) - In the midst of a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Ireland now holds the unhappy title of the nation with the highest transmission rate in the world.

The country of 5 million has suffered 2,397 COVID-19 deaths to date, and gained plaudits for the way it handled two previous pandemic waves.

In December, it had the lowest incidence rate in the European Union after becoming the first member country to launch a second lockdown.

But now it sits atop a world table tracking fresh infections.

There were 1,288 confirmed cases per million of the population on Monday (Jan 11) according to data compiled by Oxford University - placing Ireland first, ahead of the Czech Republic and Slovenia.

Ireland had officially registered more than 93,000 cases on Jan 1, but that figure jumped to more than 150,000 by Monday.