Ministers will hold a teleconference to consider the advice given by public health officials on further measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the Midlands.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn and the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly have briefed the Taoiseach on whether Kildare, Offaly and Laois should be locked down immediately.
Public health officials held an unplanned meeting earlier, to discuss growing clusters, mainly in meat plants, in Kildare, Offaly and Laois.
Dr Glynn and Mr Donnelly met the Taoiseach to update him on the recommendations to try halt rising cases, with 226 in the past two weeks in the three counties.
Both have now left government buildings, and a government official will shortly phone ministers to ask them if they agree to sign off on the Nphet advice.
We know there will be at least 60 more cases from the three counties confirmed later.
The question is if public health doctors and ministers feel a Midlands lockdown is needed.
Meanwhile, he Department of Health daily update on Thursday included notification of five additional deaths and 69 new Covid-19 cases – bringing the total number of deaths in Ireland to 1,768, and the number of confirmed cases to 26,372.
Of the latest cases, 22 are in Offaly, 19 in Kildare, eight in Laois, six in Dublin and 14 are spread across eight other counties.
Paddy Mallon, a Professor of Microbial Diseases at UCD said the country has reached a “critical point”.
“The HSE has put a huge amount of work into creating a testing and contract using system,” he told RTÉ Radio One.
“What we’re seeing at the minute with the high rates of detection is actually that system working.
“It’s a really simple message behind hand hygiene and around the wearing masks and the physical distancing, but also if you’re invited to get tested, get tested straightaway.
“One of the really noticeable things from the most recent outbreak is the number of people that are coming up positive that don’t have symptoms.
“It may be that people are sitting at home, they’ve been advised that they’ve been a close contact and they say I don’t have symptoms and don’t need to be tested.
“But data shows you do need to be tested, not so much because of the fact that you may not get sick but if you have the virus and you have no symptoms, you’re just as likely to have the same amount of virus, and have it for the same amount of time as someone who does have symptoms.
“So you’re just as infectious.
“The key is picking up people that have little or no symptoms, finding out that they have the virus, and isolating them is the key to really controlling this epidemic and stopping these outbreaks spreading into widespread community transmission which is a big concern.”