There are fresh concerns over Ireland’s coronavirus testing and tracing system after it emerged the National Virus Reference Laboratory will be unable to process any tests over the next two weekends.
In a statement, the NVRL said it would not be processing any swabs this Saturday, Sunday or Monday and would pause processing again next weekend.
It said it was forced to take the decision as a result of “unavoidable staff shortages.”
It apologised for “the late notice and for any inconvenience this may cause.”
However, health officials have said it will not have any significant impact on the country's testing capacity.
In a statement, the HSE said: "NVRL ordinarily process around 600 swabs per day. Over the course of this weekend and next these swabs will be completed by community labs.
"The HSE processes approximately 17,000 tests per day. These measures will have no negative impact on testing responses as we are still working within our available capacity."
It comes amid questions over the resilience of Ireland's testing and tracing system, after it emerged that thousands of COVID-19 would be asked to carry out their own contact tracing due to strains on the system.
On Wednesday, both the Taoiseach and the Health Minister said they only became aware of the contact tracing collapse when it was reported in the media.