Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said Ireland has “definitely not” turned a corner in its battle against the second wave of Covid-19.
Dr Holohan was speaking following confirmation of the deaths of five people and 720 new cases of the virus across the country.
As a result, the total number of Covid-19 related deaths is now 1,890 and there have been 58,767 confirmed cases in Ireland.
Dr Holohan acknowledged there has been a drop in cases in the past week, from more than 1,000 cases a day, but warns it is too early to see it as an identifiable trend.
He said it is better to see case numbers reduce but that we, as a country, are “definitely not” in a position where we have turned a corner.
Asked about the need for Level 5, Dr Holohan said the country needs stabilisation of the numbers and a more aggressive approach.
He said the introduction of Level 3 measures had shown some stabilisation in Dublin initially but the numbers began going up again to uncontrollable levels.
Dr Holohan urged people with Covid-19 and their contacts to act fully in accordance with advice.
“There are too many stories of people with symptoms, waiting on tests, and not self-isolating, also contacts not restricting movements,” he said.
Urging people to “spread the message, not the virus”, he said self-isolating meant staying indoors completely and avoiding contact with all other people.
Anyone waiting for a Covid-19 test, or test results, must self-isolate for 10 days and those they live with, or close contacts of a case, must restrict their movements for 14 days.
In relation to schools, Dr Heather Burns said the latest data showed a positivity rate of 2.7% of close contacts at primary school level and 2.1% of close contacts at post-primary schools.
She said those figures are well below the 10% rate in the wider populations which shows that schools are safe environments.
She said keeping the schools open is a priority for Government and for public health officials.
Dr Holohan said it will not be the advice of Nphet on public health grounds that schools stay closed after the mid-term break.
He also rejected criticism from airlines that the restrictions on travel are too onerous.
He cited the United States where he said the numbers are in an alarming place and while the main focus has not been on international travel, he is not in a position to recommend an easing of restrictions on travel out of the country.
He said that no country currently stands on the green list of safe countries and that international travel is a known means of transmission.
Of the 720 cases notified last night, 348 were men and 371 were women and 65% are under 45-years-old. The median age is 32-years-old.
Of the 720 new cases, 228 in Dublin, 130 in Cork, 47 in Galway, 31 in Meath, 27 in Limerick, and the remaining 257 cases are spread across another 20 counties.
The department said that as of 2pm on Tuesday, 341 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 38 are in ICU. There were 29 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.