People are being urged to do all they can to protect public health after a surge in coronavirus cases over the past five days.
The Chief Medical Officer has expressed significant concern that the level of infection is getting worse quicker than expected in the run up to Christmas.
Dr Tony Holohan was speaking after 582 new cases and six more deaths were confirmed yesterday.
Meanwhile, GPs are also seeing a rise in consultations while the numbers being referred on for a COVID-19 test is also increasing.
Spokesperson for the Irish College of General Practitioners and NPHET member Dr Mary Favier said the increase in cases was a "very concerning trend".
She told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh: "We have Christmas yet to come.
"We need to understand that anyone you meet or anyone that I meet this weekend is effectively coming to Christmas dinner with us in terms of bringing the virus.
"We have yet to do all our mixing, travel, socialising so we really have to pay attention and take care over the next few days.
GPs are really aware of the need to manage this because "our hospital system just can't take the strain", she added.
January is the busiest time for the health service and for GP practices as it's the time of year when people get ill the most.
Dr Favier said: "And in the Christmas period before that, hospital staff, in particular, need some respite, some relief, from the incredibly busy year they've had.
"Whatever about the decisions of the Government versus NPHET, it's down to us as individual people what we do with ourselves, it's who I meet today.
"People need to look at each individual decision and say do I actually need to do this."
Reluctance to contact GPs
Dr Favier said doctors were particularly concerned about those in the 60 to 75 age group and added "we probably haven't paid enough attention to the risks of people" in that category.
No one wants to get a call before Christmas that they were in contact with a positive case or were confirmed as having COVID-19 themselves, she added.
She said GPs are seeing a reluctance in people to contact them about having symptoms.
In comparison to earlier in the year when people would contact their doctor as soon as they displayed symptoms, now they are waiting two or three days to make the call.
Dr Favier stated: "It's really concerning when you think about who they could have spread it to in that time."
GPs are also hearing that when some people contact them, they are certain their cough is the same one they get every year and not the coronavirus.
She added: "I have to say to them, if I'm not sure it's not COVID then how can you be sure?
"I tell them we need to send you for a test and people are trying to avoid that.
"It's understandable because everyone is anxious over the Christmas period.
"But we need to be really vigilant over the next couple of weeks."