The Omicron strain of Covid-19 is now dominant in Ireland as public health officials confirmed it now makes up more than half of new cases.
A further 5,124 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the State today.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said that the “S gene target failure” marker identifying the new variant has been detected in an estimated 51.6 per cent of reported cases.
As of 8am today, 436 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 107 are in intensive care units.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “It has taken less than two weeks for Omicron to become the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Ireland, revealing just how transmissible this variant is.
“We have slowed transmission of this disease in the past using our basic measures and responding immediately if symptomatic – it is extremely important we do everything we can to flatten the curve of this wave now to prevent unnecessary deaths, risk to the vulnerable and to protect our health service.”
Dr Holohan urged people eligible for the booster vaccine to avail of it at the earliest opportunity.
Modelling scenarios for the impact of the Omicron Covid-19 variant show up to 1,500 people requiring general hospital care, with more than 400 people requiring critical care, and more than 2,000 people in hospital at peak.
Professor Philip Nolan published a number of modelling scenarios on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Irish nurses and midwives are facing a "nightmare before Christmas" as overcrowding issues loom with over 500 patients awaiting trolleys.
Earlier this week the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Trolley Watch recorded the highest number since the pandemic began, with 534 patients on trolleys.
With the impending Omicron wave of Covid-19 threatening to overwhelm ICU, it's been suggested that private hospitals pick up the slack.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha, the general secretary of the INMO, says it's difficult to get support when it is needed.
"I was speaking with one of our frontline ICU managers who had to ring a number of private hospitals on Thursday and Friday to seek assistance, and she was refused. They said no, and they have admission criteria in these particular hospitals. We've raised that issue with the HSE, and we'll be raising it again tomorrow, because right now when we say we can invoke assistance from private hospitals we have to dig a bit deeper and say 'what does that mean?'"