More counties have been put on notice they could be subjected to tougher restrictions as Covid-19 infections spiralled to 470 yesterday and led to another death.
Acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn revealed the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) considered advising putting the whole of the country at the same Level 3 clampdown as Dublin and Donegal when it met on Thursday,
It decided to hold back on such a move nationally "at this time". However, there is growing worry at the national picture.
The correspondence on Thursday to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, which led to recommendations that people need to restrict home visits or social outings to one other household, comes amid an ongoing surge in infections despite the tightened Level 3 lockdown measures in place in Dublin and Donegal which have yet to show significant impact. There is particular concern about the rise in infections in the 19-24 year age group and a call for extra measures to ensure the anti-Covid message gets through to them.
Yesterday's daily virus toll revealed 470 more people were infected with the virus and 198 of these were in Dublin despite the curbs in place for two weeks.
The other new cases included 61 in Cork, 36 in Donegal, 19 in Kildare, 19 in Limerick, 12 in Kerry, 11 in Galway, 11 in Meath, 10 in Roscommon, nine in Cavan, nine in Clare, nine in Kilkenny, nine in Longford, nine in Offaly, nine in Westmeath, eight in Louth, seven in Tipperary, seven in Wexford. The remaining 17 cases were in seven counties.
Dr Glynn said: "The situation nationally is a matter of serious concern and Nphet is now recommending that no more than two households should meet at any given time.
"It is vital that everyone - families, friends and neighbours - limit the opportunities this virus has to move from person to person and stop the spread of the disease across households.
"Behave as though you have the virus and keep yourself and those around you safe - don't take a risk by organising or attending gatherings with more than one other household."
Nphet told the minister the way in which young people are given the anti-Covid message needs to be stepped up. It comes after a week of reports of student parties.
Nphet said there should be a cross-society approach, including representation from young people, sport, the arts and business to create and implement solutions aimed at increasing awareness of and compliance with public health advice among people in their teens and early to mid-20s.
There were 114 patients with Covid-19 in hospital yesterday and 20 in intensive care.
The 14-day incidence of Covid-19 in Dublin and Donegal, which are at the highest level of restriction of anywhere in the country, has risen again, sparking fears the three week timeline.
Meanwhile, there was a huge rise in coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland with 934 positive tests confirmed yesterday,
It marks a new daily record and more than double the previous high of 424 new cases set earlier this week.
The 24-hour increase in Northern Ireland is just two less than the 936 cases reported in the Republic during the worst month of the pandemic in April.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said: "We are at a dangerous stage of this pandemic. I understand people are tired and frustrated, but we all need to follow guidelines.
"Complacency will claim lives. We can get through this. We can overcome. We must work together." The rate of infection in Derry city and Strabane has climbed to 422.8 per 100,000 - the rate rose by 100 in 24 hours.
Dr Glynn said on Thursday that 18 counties in Republic had an increased 14-day incidence rate as compared to figures from last week.
The situation in many other counties is deteriorating.
The growth rate in cases is between 4-5pc per day he added. Close contact of a confirmed case remains the primary mode of transmission nationally.