The National Public health Emergency Team (Nphet) will meet later today to discuss the possible introduction of further Covid-19 restrictions in Ireland.
At last night’s public health briefing, officials said the next fortnight would be key in assessing the spread and trajectory of the virus here.
Currently, Dublin is the only county where additional restrictions have been introduced. However, officials noted that the counties of Cork, Waterford, Donegal, Kildare, Louth, Wicklow, and Offaly have shown a high incidence of the virus over the last two weeks.
A key indicator of the severity of the virus spread is the ‘R’ number - that is, the reproductive rate of the virus.
Chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, Professor Philip Nolan yesterday evening said the reproductive rate of the virus here is now somewhere between 1.5 and 1.7.
Health officials now say one of the country's main objectives is to get the R number back to 1 or lower.
Professor Philip Nolan says 'worryingly' the reproduction number for Covid-19 is high, with an estimate of 1.5 to 1.7.— RTÉ News (@rtenews) September 23, 2020
He says this is 'far too high' and will lead to exponential growth in cases, hospitalisations and deaths | Read more: https://t.co/WEN0APZURP pic.twitter.com/VVDXzCCE4m
Professor Nolan said: “This week, unfortunately, we are seeing a rise in all metrics of diseases.
"We need to wait and see over the next week or so how changes in behaviour over the last week will influence cases, but we know that disease will not be where we want it to be unless we reduce our contacts and take the additional precautions when we are seeing our priority and get the reproduction rate back below one".
There is also understood to be concern over the number of cases confirmed in the over 65 age bracket.
Cabinet is due to meet next Tuesday, though the meeting may be pushed forward, depending on the NPHET’s advice.
Speaking this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was "too early to anticipate" any further lockdown measures.
He said: "Certain counties are much lower than other counties, but there is a general trend across the country.
"With that said, Nephet will advise in terms of both county-specific recommendations, and ultimately, Nephet will advise on the national scene.
"But I think it’s too early to anticipate."
Meanwhile, the number of patients in Intensive care units in Irish hospitals has been described as “worrying."
17 people with the virus are currently in ICUs - nine of whom are using ventilators.
Speaking onthis morning, Dr Catherine Motherway, a consultant in intensive care at University Hospital Limerick, said there was always a "surge" in admissions of Irish hospitals during winter.
She said: "It is a worry, and we’re keeping an eye on the figures, particularly as we approach winter, where we see an increase in viral illness generally, and where we always have.
"We always have a surge in winter."