Medics have voiced concern about the rising number of people with respiratory problems at GP clinics and the "surprising" proportion of patients in hospital who are not vaccinated.
Cork-based consultant Professor Seamus O'Reilly said the impact of the surge in Covid-19 cases is being felt across the hospital system, with emergency departments full and Intensive Care Units nearing capacity.
Prof O'Reilly, who works across three hospitals in Cork, also highlighted staff shortages due to breakthrough Covid-19 infections among healthcare workers who have been vaccinated.
He said there are issues with bed capacity in ICU which means that complex surgeries may be deferred.
Prof O'Reilly toldthat he is seeing a "surprising" proportion of patients who are not vaccinated.
He called for a "targeted campaign" to find out the concerns of the unvaccinated and groups that are marginalised.
In Kerry, Dr Gary Stack, the Medical Director of SouthDoc, noted a significant rise in all respiratory symptoms and presentations, saying the out-of-hours figures last week were up 23% on the same period last year.
He said it would have been good if the further easing of restrictions could have been postponed for another four to six weeks.
Yesterday, saw 464 Covid patients being treated in hospitals, including 86 in ICU.
A further 63 Covid deaths were notified in the last week.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has described the deteriorating Covid 19 situation as “worrying and concerning”.
“It is particularly important that people who are vulnerable to this disease and people over the age of 60 in particular, minimise as much as they can their discretionary social contacts,” he said.
“And that they make an effective assessment of their own risks.”
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) yesterday held its first public briefing since late August, prompted by a significant rise in Covid cases, hospitalisations, and intensive care unit (ICU) numbers over the past number of weeks.
Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Epidemiological Modelling Group, said hospital admissions were rising due to the high level of community transmission and warned of an increase in deaths.
There are currently 52 patients on ventilators, which Prof Nolan said is high compared to previous waves, and he warned: “Given the increase in case counts, we would expect to see an increase in mortality in the weeks to come.”
Dr Holohan said: “There is no question we have seen a drop in our collective adherence to measures.”
However, a surge in cases is not inevitable, he said, and called for greater enforcement of the use of Covid passes in travel and hospitality.
The warning from Dr Holohan and his fellow health experts comes as the Government is set to finalise protocols today to allow the reopening of nightclubs and music venues as well as the holding of the Cork Jazz Festival this weekend.