A Cork-based GP has said he would be very surprised if Cork is not moved to Level 3 shortly because of the increased number of cases in the county and city.
Dr Ronan Boland warned that there were no grounds for complacency as case numbers had risen rapidly and the capacity of local hospitals had been stretched.
He pointed out that on Sunday there were only three intensive care beds available between the two main hospitals in Cork, for a population of half a million.
“The capacity is not there to deal with any surge of normal illness, let alone Covid-19,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.
Both Cork University Hospital (CUH) and the Mercy Hospital have been operating at full capacity throughout the summer months, he said.
In the last two weeks the number of positive cases of the virus had risen from single figures to 54 cases.
Dr Boland said his medical colleagues in Cork were concerned about “an upsurge of small fires breaking out” in the city and surrounding towns, which had happened over the last 10 days.
Each one of those small outbreaks had the capacity to “spread like fire” and to become a bigger problem, he warned.
Dr Boland expressed concern about the behaviour of people congregating in groups, indoors and outdoors as their behaviour was being “disinhibited” with alcohol.
People tended to forget that while they may be relatively safe, they were going home to vulnerable households with uncles, aunt, parents and grandparents who were doing everything they could to stay safe, he said.
Speaking yesterday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that although Cork, as well as Wicklow, Galway, and Louth, have cases steadily rising, he does not foresee any announcement on new restrictions being made before Thursday when the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are due to meet.
Donegal and Dublin have both been ordered into increased local restrictions due to their rising cases, and it is widely expected other counties will follow suit.
"There are four counties which I think will be looked at very carefully. They are Cork, Galway, Louth and my own county of Wicklow," Mr Donnelly told RTÉ's This Week.
"But right now, there are no plans for NPHET to meet earlier, to make any recommendations to Government at this time.
"They meet every Thursday, that may change, but right now they have no plans to meet [before then]."