The Government is concerned about the trajectory of Covid-19 heading into the winter months, the Taoiseach has said.
Speaking on the fringes of the EU summit in Brussels on Friday, Micheál Martin said the country is beginning to witness the “seasonal backdrop” to the disease.
Many virologists have suggested that Covid-19, like influenza, peaks in the colder, winter months.
The Taoiseach has called for a “collective effort” from the public to remain cautious in the weeks and months ahead.
He said: “I saw it last evening, all the member states are now worried in terms of what’s happening in their countries because of Covid-19.
“I think we’re beginning to witness that. So, we have to monitor this.
“The phase we’re now in does speak to a collective effort from everybody to be cautious and I detect that in the population as well, I think that is there.
“But, at the same time, we’ve got to work to live with Covid, challenging and all as that will be. We’ve got to do everything we can now to resource the health service.” Mr Martin also suggested that Covid booster jabs, which are now being rolled out to the over-60s and the immunocompromised, would become as widely used as the flu vaccine.
He said: “I’ve been saying this consistently for quite a while that, over time, something like the flu vaccine will emerge in relation to Covid-19.
“It seems to me that the direction of travel is towards people receiving a booster to give added protection.
“We do have to also, in parallel with this, get the world vaccinated.
“Europe has performed very well in terms of the export of so many vaccines all over the world.
The Taoiseach also defended the Government’s handling of the reopening of the nightclub sector amid criticism from venues at last-minute changes to guidelines.
He said: “We know that for the last year and a half and more now, that Covid has consistently interrupted our way of life.
“We’re not living the way we lived before Covid. We have to adapt, we have to be nimble, we have to be quick to adapt.
“But, on the plus side, I’ve had feedback that quite a lot nightclubs are very happy with the fact that they’re reopening.”
Friday saw a further 2,466 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the Department of Health said.
As of Friday morning, there were 457 patients in hospitals with the disease, with 90 of those in ICU.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “The bank holiday weekend will bring increased levels of socialising across the country.
“With the current trajectory of the disease in Ireland it is important that every individual knows and acts on the basic measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.
“Keep social distance, wear a face mask appropriately, wash your hands regularly and manage your contacts.
“If you are meeting indoors with others, ensure the room is well ventilated, avoid crowded situations and if it feels like an unsafe environment, leave.”