Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has expressed concern over the rise in cases of Covid-19 and urged people over 65 and those who are immunosuppressed, to avail of their second booster.

Speaking as he arrived for this morning’s Cabinet meeting, the minister said there had been a threefold increase in hospital cases in recent weeks.

He said that of those in hospital aged over 65, “quite a bit less” have availed of the second Covid-19 booster vaccine.

He also said that seven in every ten Covid patients in hospital are aged over 65.

Mr Donnelly appealed to people to adhere to public health advice, which still recommends the use of face coverings on public transport and healthcare settings.

He said that there was currently no advice to reintroduce mandatory face coverings and that Ireland was in a “living with Covid phase”, however, he added that the situation could change.

He said that it was important to protect hospital services, which could be affected by Covid outbreaks.

Minister Donnelly said it was not clear if Ireland was approaching the peak of this current wave of cases or how high it would go.

He said that Government was monitoring the situation in other countries experiencing a Covid-19 wave, such as Portugal.

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As of 8am, there were 626 people in hospital with Covid-19, an increase of 20 on the same time yesterday.

Of these, 23 people are in intensive care units with the virus.