The daily growth rate in confirmed cases of coronavirus has halved - but hospitals remain at risk of being swamped by severely ill patients if a surge cannot be contained.
he stark warning emerged as new figures show the day-to-day rise in people being diagnosed with the killer virus has dropped from 33pc to 15pc.
Maynooth University's Prof Philip Nolan, who is leading a team advising the Government on the likely spread of the pandemic, said the 33pc rise took place in a scenario where no emergency measures such as physical distancing and school and business closures were implemented.
But while the daily percentage rise in cases has been reduced, it is still not enough to ensure the peak will be manageable and that hospitals will be able to cope with the number of patients needing critical care.
He was speaking as another eight people died from the virus yesterday, including six patients in the east.
RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy is among the now 2,910 people who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The broadcaster was off the air last week and self-isolating due to illness.
Meanwhile, a shortage of kits meant that several coronavirus testing centres unable to open yesterday, leading to ongoing delays.
The fatalities, which push the death toll to 54, included five females and three men with a median age of 86 years of age.
Another 295 new confirmed cases of the virus have been diagnosed bringing the total to 2,910.
Prof Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: "We know what an unmitigated epidemic looks like, we are not on that track.
"The model reveals that before restrictions were in place, daily growth rate of confirmed cases was at 33pc. This has fallen in recent days to around 15pc.
"But it is still growing and needs to fall further. It takes time to see the impact of our efforts in the numbers."
He said it will be another seven to 10 days before we have a reliable picture of how effective our collective efforts have been.
"The key message is that if you suspect you have the disease you must ensure you infect nobody else," he warned.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan added: "We are beginning to see encouraging signs in our efforts to flatten the curve.
"However, we cannot become complacent as we are still seeing new cases and more intensive admissions every day.
"Our strategy remains the implementation of public health restrictions to interrupt the spread of the virus and prevent people from arriving to intensive care in the first place."
He also refused to rule out extending the restrictions beyond Easter Sunday.
Some 645 people have been hospitalised and the number admitted to intensive care has risen to 84.
Meanwhile, testing for the coronavirus is facing further delays after a number of centres had to curtail their opening hours in recent days due to a shortage of kits.
It is understood a number of GPs who are self-isolating and waiting for a result for over a week to tell them if they can return to work are among those caught up in the backlog.
The HSE is to due to distribute more of the test kits today to prevent the shutdown of the centres in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, Tallaght Stadium in Dublin and a Galway site.
It poses new questions on whether the increase in new people testing positive is being captured on time, while the number of people admitted to intensive care and dying after contracting the virus have significantly risen.
A HSE spokeswoman said: "Testing capacity has been constrained since Sunday due to stock limitations of testing kits.
"We are replenishing stocks today. We hope to be fully operational across all sites today."
Around 38,000 people have been tested for the virus so far, but more than 4,000 are waiting for an appointment to give a swab test.
The aim is to get back to doing around 5,000 tests a day.
The HSE, along with other health authorities across the world, is having to contend with a shortage in testing kits at a time when the World Health Organisation has stressed the need to identify those who have the virus, isolate them and track down their contacts.
The problems involve a lack of tests both to take a swab from the person's nose or throat and also the kit needed to analyse the sample in the laboratory.
The testing process confirms the presence of the coronavirus by looking for its genetic material.
The first stage involves a healthcare worker taking a sample by swabbing a patient's nose or throat.
To do this they need specialised swabs which are long, thin tubes that are flexible enough to get all the way to the back of the throat, called the nasopharynx.
Extraction kits or reagents needed for lab analysis are also in short supply.
The HSE said provision of reagent and extraction kits will remain a major challenge for the foreseeable future until the major suppliers ramp up production.