The HSE has said a localised lockdown in Kildare, Laois and Offaly cannot be ruled out.
Nearly half the cases that have been confirmed in the country over the past two weeks have been in the area.
Many of the cases are in local meat plants, with 80 workers at one food plant in Timahoe, County Kildare testing positive in recent days.
At least 60 new cases will be confirmed in the region this evening.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said a localised lockdown can’t be ruled out.
“Nothing can be ruled out because, as we have learned the hard way, everything has to be considered in order to avoid unrestrained community transmission,” he said.
“We have seen what happens with unrestrained community transmission in northern Italy early on in the pandemic and in China – we can’t afford it.
“Our healthcare system would not be able to deal with it; we won’t be able to open up education and we would be looking at all those cancelled health procedures, as we had to do at the end of March, again if we face that spectre.
“So, we have to consider a whole range of measures but it begins with the individual and we have to keep emphasising that message ad nauseum.”
He said it is important to reassure the public that the “great majority” of the new cases are related to specific outbreaks.
“What we have not seen, thankfully, is a breakout into wide-spread community transmission, where all bets are off because then we are into a completely different situation,” he said.
“I listened to one of your interviews there from Kildare town saying it would be calamity for Kildare to face lockdown again after all their efforts – it would be a calamity for the country if we have widespread community transmission again because then we would be back where we were.”
He urged the public to do all it can to “break that chain of transmission.”
“When we went to one of the lowest levels in Europe in community transmission, we did it by beating the virus of the streets and into households,” he said.
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