The health system is not built to deal with the "tsunami" of COVID-19 cases in Irish hospitals, a Dublin GP has warned.
As of 8am this morning, there were 581 people with coronavirus being treated in hospital.
It follows the admission of 73 new patients over a 24-hour period, with 50 people in ICU.
The Chief Medical Officer has issued a warning that the health system will not be able to cope with the increasing number of people being hospitalised with the virus.
Dr Tony Holohan said he anticipated that 50 to 70 people will be admitted to hospital daily, a "concerning trend" which he expects to "get worse before it gets better".
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh today, Dr Ray Walley, who is a member of the GP COVID-19 Expert Advisory Group, said COVID-19 is "rampant" in the community.
He said: "No system is built to deal with a tsunami and that's what we're dealing with here, we have exponential growth."
Dr Walley said we're at a "mitigation" point which is a "protect the hospitals phase".
He added that we need to take on the advice of Dr Holohan in believing that we have the virus in order to reduce the risk of spreading it to others.
It comes as NPHET predicts that at least 9,000 new cases of COVID-19 will be reported over the coming days.
On this stark figure, Dr Walley said: "I'm glad we have the honesty that we're acknowledging that there are no many numbers there that yet need to be validated to the order of 9,000."
We now have 581 #COVID19 patients in hospital. There are 50 people in ICU. We have likely not seen the worst impacts yet. But everything we do today to stop this virus spreading makes a huge difference. Please let's all play our part to protect our health service.@HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) January 2, 2021
Dr Walley said that the test and system in Ireland has not collapsed after advice was revised that close contacts of a confirmed case will no longer be required to get a COVID-19 test.
The advice has always been the same, he added, that irrespective of a test result, someone in close contact of a confirmed case must restrict their movements for 14 days.
It comes as Dr Nuala O'Connor, the ICGP's Lead COVID-19 Advisor, reported that some asymptomatic individuals were pretending to have symptoms in order to get tested.
Dr Walley said that such behaviour is more prevalent during a peak in cases, such as what we're seeing at the moment.
He explained that some people are using the test as a "get out of jail card", which it is not.
Please don’t pretend you have symptoms to get tested. It won’t change what you need to do and delay testing for those who have symptoms. 14 days restriction applies even if you were to test negative @ICGPnews @gpbuddy @NewstalkFM @morningireland 2/4
— Nuala O Connor (@DrNuala) January 1, 2021