Ireland should consider local restrictions if COVID-19 cases continue to surge, according to the World Health Organisation.
Dr David Nabarro, the WHO’s special envoy on COVID, says he believes localised measures are the “correct response” to any big spike in cases in a particular area.
He was speaking as COVID-19 figures in Ireland remain stubbornly high.
The five-day moving average of new cases has fallen slightly in recent days, but remains at 1,964.
The number of patients with the virus in Irish hospitals also remains high.
Figures released by the HSE last night showed there were 470 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Irish hospitals, including 101 in ICU.
At one point yesterday, there were just 21 adult ICU beds available across the public system.
Dr Nabarro told Newstalk local restrictions - but not a national lockdown - could be needed if the trend continues.
He said: “There may be some locally imposed restrictions, and that’s what I consider to be the right way of going about things when you have a big spike in cases and hospital services are being overwhelmed.
“I don’t see that as something to be worried about: I see that as the correct response to a surge in COVID cases.”
He suggested Ireland has robust systems for tracking new cases on a county-by-county basis, meaning officials have a good idea what’s happening in individual areas.
However, Dr Nabarro believes the ongoing surge of cases is likely to continue for several more weeks.
He said: “I think the rate of increase will only slow if there is a conscious effort by people everywhere to themselves contribute to reduce transmission.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan yesterday said the current situation can be “turned around” based on collective behaviour.
He said he’s "optimistic" enough will be done to avoid any further restrictions.
Earlier in the day, Minister Eamon Ryan said he doesn’t think restrictions will be reintroduced in the run-up to Christmas.