Counties Tyrone and Armagh have the highest coronavirus infection rates in Ireland though cases are also rising in Co Waterford, the latest official figures show.
The most Covid-infected region is Tyrone, with many postcode areas in the county reporting incidence rates above 1,000 cases per 100,000 people over the latest two-week period.
Castlederg has the highest infection rate on the island, recording 2,099 cases per 100,000. Cases also remain high in postcode areas covering Fivemiletown, Strabane, Omagh, Ballygawley, Dungannon and Aughnacloy.
Waterford City South has the highest rate of Covid infection in the Republic, recording 1,486 cases per 100,000. The nearby electoral area of Tramore-Waterford City West has a 14-day rate of 1,121.
Waterford has the highest vaccination rate in the country, with 99.7 per cent of adults over the age of 18 (as registered in the last census) fully vaccinated.
The county has gone from having one of the lowest Covid infection rates in Ireland to one of the highest.
Other areas where coronavirus is spreading more widely include Craigavon, Co Armagh (2,099), Downpatrick, Co Down (1,378), Limavady, Co Derry (1,355), Portadown, Co Armagh (1,332), Longford town (1,240), Borris-in-Ossory–Mountmellick, Co Laois (1,064) and Ennistymon, Co Clare (1,042).
The figures are based on the number of new cases in the Republic’s 166 local electoral areas and the North's 80 postcode areas over the most recent two-week period.
Blanchardstown-Mulhuddart has the highest infection rate in the capital, with 785 cases per 100,000 people. Pembroke has the lowest rate in Dublin at 202 per 100,000.
It comes as health officials warned that Ireland faces a difficult winter, with political leaders admitting that the return of some restrictions could not be ruled out.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned the public on Thursday to be vigilant of businesses that do not ask for a Covid pass, urging people to insist that restaurants and pubs follow basic rules.
He said avoiding the return of restrictions in the coming weeks and months would “demand vigilance” from members of the public.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also echoed warnings from the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, when he said that “nobody can rule out” the reintroduction of pandemic restrictions.
The comments from the two most senior members of the Government came as officials in the HSE painted a grim picture of the pressures the winter will bring for the health service.
At the first HSE briefing since August, HSE chief Paul Reid said that rising Covid-19 cases, as well as the spread of flu and respiratory illnesses, was a cause for concern.
Health officials said that Ireland was likely to face another difficult winter, with some hospitals already being forced to scale back scheduled treatment because of the latest surge of the virus.
Figures released on Thursday by the HSE also revealed that there had been an 18 per cent increase in Covid-19 testing in the last week.
Positivity rates from testing carried out at community testing sites sit at 11.8 per cent. In Co Kerry, that figure has reached as high as 19 per cent.
Meanwhile, nightclubs will return with 100 per cent capacity while customers will once again be able to order at the bar, according to new guidelines for the hospitality sector.
Industry representatives were briefed by officials on the new guidelines on Thursday evening, hours before the easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by the Government this week are due to take effect.