Latest models show up to 500 people could be admitted to ICU with COVID-19 "if we do nothing" to curb the current wave of infections, the Health Minister has said.
Stephen Donnelly says the latest COVID-19 modelling from NPHET is "very stark".
Both the Health Minister and the Taoiseach have confirmed the booster vaccine programme is set to be extended to everyone over 50, as well as anyone with an underlying health condition.
However, people won't receive that extra dose until at least five months after their second dose.
Cabinet ministers are meeting this morning to consider further measures to stem COVID-19 cases - including a recommendation for a full return to work-from-home wherever possible.
Ministers will also consider the need for Digital COVID Certs to access gyms, hairdressers and barbers, and will also consider the wider use of antigen testing.
It follows a Cabinet subcommittee meeting last night where the latest NPHET modelling revealed the peak of the current wave of infections may not happen until some time in December.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says the latest NPHET projections are “stark” & confirms NIAC has advised boosters for over 50s and people with underlying conditions pic.twitter.com/bAlfMAdyUU
— Stephen Murphy (@StephenMNews) November 16, 2021
Speaking on his way into the full Cabinet meeting this morning, Minister Donnelly said: "The modelling is very stark.
“If we did nothing and were to continue as is, we could be looking at somewhere between 200 and maybe up to 500 people in ICU. Obviously, that’s not something we could countenance.
“We’d be looking at 1,000 to over 2,000 people in hospital."
He confirmed that NIAC has recommended a further extension of the booster programme, and the Government will now focus "very, very strongly" on that.
He also said antigen tests will be made more widely available, pending Government agreement.
The Taoiseach, meanwhile, said the situation is very concerning and there’s an “obligation on all of us to reduce socialisation” to get virus rates down.
He said the latest updates from the HSE about the situation in hospitals show the need for ‘very quick action’.
He warned that the situation will get worse before it gets better.