A public health expert has warned the Cork and Galway may be the next counties to face further lockdown restrictions as cases in Ireland continue to rise.
Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems at Dublin City University, said the number of cases is increasing "uncomfortably high" and that he would not be surprised if Cork and Galway were placed under increased restrictions.
Professor Staines highlighted returning students to UCC for the start of the semester next week as a possible factor in the surging cases reported in Cork city.
"It's rising uncomfortably high and I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Cork was next and Galway was next," said Professor Staines, "It will depend on contact tracing but I wonder how many of these cases are associated with students coming back to UCC."
"A lot of students will have come to Cork to get ready for the first semester which starts on Monday," Professor Staines said.
Earlier the public health expert said the five reported deaths from the coronavirus today show the urgency required for "bringing the number of cases in the community down".
Professor Staines said the latest deaths are a sad reminder of the critical need to stop the spread of the disease.
"It takes a significant time to go from developing an infection to actually becoming sick enough to die from it. So normally we see cases rising, admissions rising, intensive care admissions rising, and deaths rising in that order.
"It is not surprising that this has happened but it is still very sad that this has happened. It shows the urgency in bringing the number of cases in the community down," said Professor Staines.
Today's figures bring the total number of Covid-related deaths in Ireland to 1,802.
248 new cases of the disease were also confirmed by the Department of Health today.
From today's data, Dublin reported the highest number with 104 new cases confirmed followed by Donegal at 37 and Cork at 36.
In the rest of the country, eight cases were in Kildare and a further eight cases were confirmed in Westmeath, six cases were in Kilkenny, six in Laois, six in Offaly, five in Longford, five in Monaghan, five in Wexford, and the remaining 22 cases were reported in 11 other counties.
Speaking earlier today in a video message, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn urged the public to observe social distancing and public health guidelines.
Dr Glynn said it was not inevitable that further restrictions would be introduced in other counties as case numbers rise and that collective and individual action can prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr Ronan Glynn on how each of us can live safely with this virus over the coming months. Do not underestimate the value of your individual actions. Please stick with this and together we will get through #COVID19 #StaySafe [for subtitles/closed captions, select "cc"]. pic.twitter.com/HdO92ycHBa— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) September 25, 2020
However, Dr Glynn said other counties could still be subject to further restrictions.
“I ask every individual to take personal responsibility prioritising need to limit the size of their social network and reduce your social contacts over the coming days and weeks,” he said.
“Because while there’s every chance that other areas in the country will have to move to level three. There is nothing inevitable about that,” said Dr Glynn.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer also praised the counties of Limerick and Tipperary for their response to heightened Covid-19 levels.
"We have seen previously in Limerick and Tipperary and possibly over the past few days in Waterford, how people working together can take control and turn the tide on this virus.
"But even in these counties people need to keep going, keep making the right choices, and deny Covid the opportunity to transmit," said Dr Glynn.