With record-high cases of Covid-19 being reported, hospitals, bus services and businesses have said they are struggling to operate due to many of their staff being out with the virus.
Earlier today, Cork University Hospital (CUH) urged members of the public to explore all other options available before presenting to the Emergency Department.
The hospital has been dealing with increasing number of Covid-19 positive patients, as well as staffing challenges that are putting "significant pressure" on services.
A spokesperson for the hospital said the department has been "exceptionally busy over the past number of weeks."
"Due to this increased level of activity and subsequent admissions, it is regrettable that some patients may experience a delay in the ED," it was added.
"Hospital management have requested that, where appropriate, the public contact their GP/South Doc in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to attending the Emergency Department if their needs are not urgent.
"Patient care is paramount in CUH and this situation is being treated as a priority by Hospital Management who have taken steps to address this issue."
In Galway, the infection rate among staff at Galway University Hospital (GUH) has doubled in 48 hours.
GUH reported 190 infected on Friday, an increase from 100 just two days earlier.
CEO of Lifeline Ambulance Service, David Hall, says the situation's on a "knife-edge":
"The elephant in the room really is the staff - staff are exhausted, they have had two long years and many staff now have been infected by Omicron and indeed are close contacts, therefore, removing them from the entire situation and the health system for a minimum of five days."
Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's (INMO) general secretary has said staff are reaching a breaking point as hospitals are being urged to curtail all non-emergency activity and introduce greater measures to reduce transmission of Covid-19.
"We now have a very exhausted workforce who are facing into their fifth wave and what they are saying very clearly here and what their nurse managers are saying to us is the level of good will, the level of positivity that has been demonstrated by this workforce is unprecedented," said Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
The INMO says the hospital system is too small to cope with servicing emergency care, Covid care and elective treatments.
Bus Éireann has apologised to travelers experiencing a delay with any services nationally today as they are experiencing a high level of staff absences due to Covid-19.
In a statement, the company said some "minor disruption" can be expected today but has assured that all Covid-19 mitigation measures are in place.
We wish to advise customers that we expect some minor disruption to services today due to a higher than expected number of Covid-19 related employee absences. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result.https://t.co/5Yc2R1Kyso@TFIupdates— Bus Éireann (@Buseireann) January 2, 2022
"Bus Éireann wishes to advise customers that we expect some minor disruption to services today due to a higher than expected number of Covid-19 related employee absences. We wish to apologise for any inconvenience caused as a result.
"Bus Éireann has robust Covid-19 mitigation measures in place, including having hand sanitising units available on-board and in stations, having touchpoint cleaning during the day and deep cleaning of buses overnight, as well as reminders to leave windows open.
"We also remind passengers to wear masks throughout their journey and in bus stations," it said.
Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) has warned of potential economic consequences due to the impact of Omicron on staffing levels.
IBEC says for every positive Covid case, businesses are having to deal with a further three staff needing to self-isolate.
It says urgent changes are needed to the rules around close contacts, particularly for those who've received a third dose.
Chief Executive, Danny McCoy, says the situation's becoming more serious by the day:
"From our information, it looks like it is kind of breaking out for every one positive there are nearly three close contacts in the business context.
"This is quite serious in essential, critical supply chains such as manufacturing of food, pharmaceuticals, but also in the delivery of those and the retailing of these goods and products. We have the potential for a short term economical shock here," he said.