The “great signs” of the coronavirus vaccine starting to reduce transmission is giving healthcare staff a second wind, the boss of the HSE has said.
Paul Reid said that while the country is winning in its battle in reducing the spread of the virus, he warned it is “not over yet”.
The number of people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 has been reducing in recent weeks but health experts are concerned that infection rates are not dropping at a faster rate.
Ireland is facing its ninth weeks of Level 5 restrictions.
Mr Reid tweeted on Saturday: “Continued improvement today in those hospitalised, 550, and in ICU, 135, with Covid-19.
“Our healthcare teams are exhausted.
“But getting their vaccination and the great signs of it reducing transmission is giving us all a second wind.
“We are winning, it’s just not over yet.”
On Friday night, the Government added 13 more countries to its list in which travellers arriving from the locations have to undergo mandatory isolation for 14 days.
The countries have all been flagged to be at high risk of Covid-19 infection.
They include Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The Government is to introduce mandatory quarantine at designated facilities in the coming weeks.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly brought legislation to the Dail earlier this week to bring in mandatory quarantine.
“Once the Bill has passed through all stages in the Oireachtas, it will be referred to the President for his consideration,” Mr Donnelly added.
“Subject to the Bill becoming law, it is the Government’s intention to commence the operation of mandatory quarantine facilities as soon as possible.”
A National Oversight Group for Variants of Concern (VOCS) has been set up to monitor and advise about the challenges posed by VOCs.
On Friday, a further 29 people who had tested positive for coronavirus died. Another 776 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were also announced.
As of February 23, 373,280 doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered in Ireland.
This includes 238,841 first doses and 134,439 second doses.