There are 2,180 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland today - the highest number since January - the Department of Health has announced.
The five-day moving average has increased to 1,851 - up from 1,686 yesterday.
406 people in hospital have coronavirus - of whom 71 are in intensive care. Of those being treated in ICU, the overwhelming majority chose not to get vaccinated, according to the HSE's Chief Operations Officer Anne O'Connor:
"Those, I suppose, [the unvaccinated] 10% of the adult population is driving 50% of our admissions.
"So it's a disproportionate impact in terms of the people who are unvaccinated presenting.
"Unfortunately that is still a significant number for us.
"Having 70 people in our ICUs who are COVID positive puts a very significant demand [on hospitals], and the fact that three-quarters of them are unvaccinated equally is of significant concern".
Dr Catherine Motherway, a consultant in Intensive Care at University Hospital Limerick, predicted that the number of cases would increase further as the winter draws in:
“It’s been a very difficult few weeks. The incidence is rising all over the country but there is absolutely no doubt that as the winter comes in we’re going to see an increase in the spread of viruses and we seem to be seeing an increase in COVID.
“And I can see why the Government have a difficult decision ahead of them in terms of deciding what to do in relation to the remaining restrictions.”
The increase in numbers has led to speculation that the relaxation of restrictions due on 22nd October might not go ahead as planned. Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said his members have no issue with the requirement to show a vaccine certificate - so long as they are otherwise allowed to trade normally again:
“We’re saying to the Government very clearly, is we’re up for the challenge over the next number of weeks and months around the vaccine passport.
“But we need to allow businesses to return to normal trading hours, a normal trading environment, which will remove social distancing internally in businesses if everybody else is checked and verified through the COVID vaccine passport.”
Earlier this week Taoiseach Micheál Martin hinted at a delay to the ending of some restrictions, describing the rise in cases as a “matter of concern”, before adding:
“That is what I am saying right now and therefore we have to feed that into whatever decisions we make early next week.”
Main image: Scientists test swabs for COVID-19 Picture by: PA