The Department of Health has provisionally reported a further 23,281 new cases of Covid-19, the highest daily total since the pandemic began.
As of 8am on Saturday morning, there were 656 patients in hospital with Covid-19, of whom 85 were in ICU.
"Given the current high incidence, the daily case number is based on positive SARS-CoV-2 results uploaded to the HSE Covid Care Tracker the preceding day. These data are provisional," the Department said in a statement on Twitter.
As cases continue to rise, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has denied that the new Covid-19 testing and close contact measures are confusing.
As reported in the Irish Examiner, Mr Donnelly's comments come despite warnings from health experts that the updated guidelines are “blurred”.
Medics now fear that long delays for access to PCR testing, coupled with the new guidance that people under the age of 40 should have a positive antigen test before getting a PCR, will cause people to lose patience and not follow guidance to self-isolate.
The Minister for Health admitted that Government policy on visits to other homes is now at odds with public health advice. This follows a warning from the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan for people to cut back socialising amid New Years celebrations.
With a further 20,110 confirmed cases on Friday, Dr Holohan said that meeting indoors with other households was "simply not safe".
Although Mr Donnelly agreed with the warning from Dr Holohan, he confirmed current Government policy, which still allows up to four households to meet together, remains in place.
Government policy, as you'll be aware, was last agreed on December 22nd, and Government policy is that there should be a maximum of three other households.
"I think Dr Holohan is correct," he added.
"There is a genuine concern around super-spreader events. People should to the greatest extent possible reduce the other households that they meet indoors."