Covid-19 is now “running rife” in communities in Ireland, the chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.
Paul Reid made the warning as a further 9,006 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Ireland.
As of 8am on Tuesday, 521 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, 92 of whom were in intensive care.
Mr Reid told RTE’s This Morning programme that the HSE is seeing a positivity rate of up to 50% in testing.
He added that there is “no doubt now” that Covid-19 is “absolutely running rife in our communities”.
He said: “If you think that you have Covid, it’s most likely that you have it.
“It would seem that there’s a peak at some stage.
“We certainly aren’t at that by any stretch just yet.”
Meanwhile, children at high risk from Covid-19 can now register for the vaccine in Ireland.
The HSE has encouraged parents to register their children for a Covid-19 vaccine if they have a health condition that puts them at higher risk from the disease, or if they live with someone who is at high risk from the virus.
All other children will be offered the vaccine in January.
Dr Lucy Jessop, director of public health at the National Immunisation Office, said: “Clinical trials showed that this vaccine was highly effective at preventing Covid-19 in children. All vaccines are tested before they are approved for use in Ireland by the European Medicines Agency.
Parents should get their information from a trusted source, such as hse.ie or a medical professional, when making the decision to vaccinate their childDr Lucy Jessop, National Immunisation Office
“We know from listening to parents that they have questions and concerns about the Covid-19 vaccine – particularly parents whose child is not at higher risk.
“I would encourage parents to take time to read more about the vaccines. Parents should get their information from a trusted source, such as hse.ie or a medical professional, when making the decision to vaccinate their child,” she said.
Parents are being asked to register their child online using a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, an Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address.
Registrations can also be made over the phone.
The HSE plans to administer the vaccine to most children in vaccination centres, with parental consent required before a vaccine can be given.