The Chief Medical Officer has “strongly advised” people to wear masks on public transport as the Covid case numbers climbed again to 656 on St Stephen’s Day.
Professor Breda Smyth said: “Covid is still with us and we are not wearing our masks.”
Speaking in a video message to the public, she advised the masks should fit well and cover the nose.
“Don’t touch it or pull it down over your chin,” she said. “Masking up means you are less likely to transmit infectious droplets to others.”
The CMO urged people to remember that masking can benefit other people in the community, urging: “So please let’s all mask up for each other.”
The latest hospital figures show the number of admitted patients with Covid-19 climbed again, after a dip over the Christmas period.
This includes 29 seriously ill people in the intensive care units (ICU).
The positivity rate among those people eligible for PCR testing over the last seven days stands at 19.5% or almost one in five, the highest this measurement has been since late July.
By December 19 some 8,293 Covid-19 deaths were notified to the Health Protection and Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Dublin remains the county with the most Covid-deaths during the whole of the pandemic at 2,696. Cork has seen the second-highest number of deaths in that time with 734 sadly passing away.
Limerick is the next most affected Munster county with 368 Covid-19 deaths notified since early 2020. Leitrim has seen the fewest Covid-19 deaths overall with 45 notified.
The HSE has also warned there could be over 900 patients in hospitals with the flu in early January. There were just 12 adult ICU beds available on Christmas Eve for example and no children's ICU beds.
In the week before Christmas, a further 502 cases of RSV were reported, mainly among young children.
Paediatrician Dr John Twomey at University Hospital Limerick has advised parents to contact their GP if a child has a persistent high temperature in spite of giving calpol or neurofen among other symptoms, including if the child seems very tired or irritable.