Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ruled out a return to a full Covid-19 lockdown, saying they belonged to an earlier stage of the pandemic.
Speaking in Cavan, Mr Martin said he is concerned by the rise in daily Covid-19 case numbers, but the high rate of vaccinations means the country is in a totally different space in terms of the required response.
“We are concerned about rising case numbers," he said.
"But as we have said consistently, we are in a much different position this year to last year because of the powerful impact that vaccination has had in preventing severe illness, preventing hospitalization and ICU cases.”
He said people need to be conscious of their behaviour over the coming while.
"Non-Covid, respiratory illnesses are creating a lot of pressure on our hospitals especially our paediatric hospitals because of RSV in particular," he said.
He added that though news that a new Covid-19 antiviral drug from Pfizer is to be made in Ringaskiddy, it does not necessarily mean Ireland will be early beneficiaries of the drug.
The Taoiseach was speaking as a further 3,903 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by officials at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
As of 8am this morning, 463 patients with the virus were hospitalised, 76 of whom were in intensive care.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan said the case total reported this evening was "very concerning" and "a stark reminder that this virus is highly contagious."
"This is not a situation any of us want to be in, but our reality remains that we are still in the midst of a global pandemic," he said.
The CMO said Ireland has been tracking ahead of other Western European countries when it came to the fourth wave of the pandemic.
"We are now starting to see a rise in incidence across the continent in line with our own recent experience.
"There is some good news in that the number of people per 1,000 cases requiring hospitalisation and critical care as a result of Covid-19 infection has reduced, as the average age of cases reducing and as a result of some early impact of the booster vaccination."
Dr Holohan said that while Covid vaccines gave good protection from serious illness and hospitalisation, fully vaccinated people could still get and transmit the virus.
The CMO went on to encourage anyone who has not yet received a vaccine to come forward for their jab, and urged the general public to continue to adhere to public health guidelines.
"We must protect ourselves from Covid-19 as best we can by layering up on all elements of the public health advice," he said.
"These are the tools we are all so familiar with - washing hands, covering coughs, wearing masks, choosing outdoor or well-ventilated indoor activities where possible and maintaining a social distance."
He asked anyone planning to socialise with others to be mindful of contacts in the days after, particularly if they are meeting people who may be immunocompromised or vulnerable to the virus.
"If you have any symptoms, do not meet up with others at school, work or socially - including in your own home. Self-isolate immediately and arrange a test," he said.
"It is important that we continue to be conscious of the vulnerable people in our lives."
Earlier this afternoon, the Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed that it would be offering Covid-19 booster vaccinations to people over the age of 60 from today.
The HSE said the decision was made on foot of recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac).
Those in this age cohort will receive a text message with an appointment for their jab at a HSE vaccination centre.
The health service has urged anyone who receives the text to avail of the booster when it is offered to them.
Health officials have recommended that people only get the booster if it has been at least six months since they completed their primary vaccination course.
The boosters of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines are available to everyone, regardless of which Covid-19 vaccine they initially received.
The HSE also said that people could get their booster at the same time as the flu vaccine or other vaccines.
Anyone who cannot attend their appointment can reschedule it by replying to their appointment text message with the word ‘New’.
Thereafter, they will be issued with a new appointment date and time.
- More information on the Covid-19 booster campaign can be found on the HSE's website.