As the number of cases of Covid-19 being reported continues to rise, the Taoiseach has warned that the coming weeks will be challenging, but said that working with NPHET "we will respond firmly and appropriately"
Almost 300 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cork alone at the weekend with 112 cases reported here on Friday night, a further 107 on Saturday and 77 cases reported last night.
In a statement, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, urged people to mask up and behave as if they had the virus.
Mr Martin said that the current level 3 stage of restrictions currently in place across the country "involves a greater level of restrictions on people and society, particularly on our hospitality sector".
He said that if everyone changes their behaviour, "we can make level 3 work, protect lives and livelihoods, show that we can contain the virus and prevents its growth."
Having yesterday said that giving schools an extra week off at mid-term break is not "being considered actively", he said: "the reopening of our schools has shown what can be done with collective effort and compliance with safety guidance and sensible measures".
He added: "Keeping our schools open remains a key priority of government - to ensure that the life chances of our young children will not be impaired."
Following comments from An Tánaiste Leo Varadkar about the possibility of a circuit breaker lockdown, in an interview with RTÉ, the Taoiseach said that such a move would be experimental. He said he is not convinced that any such move would be a temporary measure. He elaborated that he did not think it would be possible to lock the country down for two weeks and then come out of it.
The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre yesterday evening revealed there are have been two additional deaths related to the virus in Ireland, bringing the total to 1,826.
As of midnight on Saturday night, the HPSC were notified of 814 cases of COVID-19 nationally.
226 were in Dublin, while there were 77 in Cork, 64 in Galway, 56 in Donegal, and 48 in Meath. The remaining 343 cases are spread across all remaining counties.
112 new cases were confirmed for Cork on Saturday evening, on top of 107 in Cork on Friday.
On Saturday, 20 people in Cork with Covid-19 were receiving care at Cork hospitals.
The HSE's Daily Operations Update shows that 15 people with confirmed Covid-19 were being cared for at the Cork University Hospital with five people being treated at the Mercy University Hospital.
One person with Covid-19 was receiving care at the critical care unit at CUH on Saturday.
As of 2pm yesterday, 204 COVID-19 patients were hospitalised nationally, of which 30 were in ICU. There were 16 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.
Across the weekend, healthcare professionals in Cork urged people to take action to help slow the spread of the disease
Consultant Paediatrician at the Bon Secours Hospital, Niamh Lynch said: "You are the frontline now Cork. You are the team out on the pitch. Us healthcare workers are the goalies. It's up to you to stop Covid scoring the only goal it wants, which is to keep spreading."
She pleaded: "Let's make Level 3 work."
Cork GPs are also urging the public to take steps to stall the progress of Covid-19.
Cork GP and Covid-19 lead at the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), Dr Nuala O'Connor urging people to act fast.
She said that the Cork GP Covid hub had been busy at the weekend with GP practices seeing more positives cases.
"The numbers tell the story. You all know what to do. Act fast. Stop meeting people and we just might be able to avert level 5."
Dr Ronan Boland warned that there is no spare capacity in Cork hospitals, and said that numbers are "certain to worsen for at least the next 2-3 weeks even if Level 3 (is) effective."
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, has called on the public to implement public health advice in their daily lives.
He said: "It is vital that the entire population consistently implement public health advice into their daily lives; keep your social contacts to an absolute minimum and keep physical distance when you need to be out of your home."
He added: “22 out of 26 counties have 7 day incidence rates as a percentage of 14 day incidence rates above 50%. This shows rapidly increasing growth rates across the country.”