There is a worrying number of people being admitted to intensive care with COVID-19, according to public health doctors.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will today decide whether further coronavirus restrictions are required in Dublin or elsewhere.
Last night, officials warned that the virus is now spreading in "quite a significant number of counties" – with Donegal, Cork, Kildare, Offaly, Louth, Wicklow and Waterford singled out for particular concern.
There were 234 new cases announced last night along with two further deaths. 103 of the new cases were in Dublin with 30 in Donegal.
As of last night, there were 17 COVID-19 patients in intensive care with nine on ventilators.
An average of one to two new patients are begin admitted to intensive care every day and officials say a growing number of younger people are being admitted.
On Breakfast Briefing with Shane Beatty this morning, Dr Catherine Motherway, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at University Hospital Limerick said the increase is concerning.
“It is a worry and we are keeping our eyes on the figures obviously,” she said.
“Particularly as we approach winter and we see an increase in viral illnesses generally and where we always have a surge in admissions to critical care and always have a difficulty in the winter.
“So, it is a worry and we are keeping our eye on it but it is not as bad as it was in the beginning but we are bit concerned.”
Officials now estimate the reproductive rate of the virus at between 1.5 and 1.7 and the Chair of the NPHET Modelling Advisory Group Dr Philip Nolan has warned that everyone in the country must follow public health advice to bring it down.
“Both the restrictions and advice are designed to bring the reproduction rate below one,” he said. “That's the only sustainable position to be in."
The acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said one-third of the new patients in Donegal yesterday were 15 to 25-years-old.
He said people must reduce their activities and physical contacts in the coming weeks if we are to get a handle on the rising number of cases.
“Go to your football match but then don’t go to the pub or go to the pub but then don’t go to the football match,” he said.
“Bring your children to the playground but don’t bring your children to the neighbour’s house down the road.
“These are choices we all have to make. We can’t have everything we had eight months ago. It is not the time for house parties; it is not the time for big communion celebrations; it is not the time for big family gatherings.”
He said he understands the frustration many people are feeling – but warned that we all must pull together.
"Everybody is sick and tired of this at this stage,” he said. “The idea of having to face into restrictions, measures, decreasing our social contacts is frankly a horrible one for people.
"Unfortunately, that's the situation we find ourselves in in Ireland - it's the situation countries find themselves in across Europe.
"It is vital that over the coming days and weeks that people reduce their social contacts."
NPHET will meet to discuss the situation today.