Testing of close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases could resume this week, the head of the HSE has said.
Paul Reid said wider community testing can resume if there are several days in a row where the country has fewer than 2,000 cases confirmed per day.
1,378 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday evening, the lowest number reported this month.
It was the second day in a row where the number of cases fell below 2,000.
The surge in cases during late December and early January meant the HSE and NPHET decided to halt testing of close contacts so the testing system could focus on people with symptoms.
On today's Newstalk Breakfast, however, Mr Reid said they want to get back to testing all those close contacts as soon as possible.
He said: “Thankfully, we saw yesterday again below 2,000 cases. If we start to see that as a trend for the next few days, we will be very anxious to get back testing all close contacts.
“Later this week, if we get a consistent level below 2,000 each day this week… we want to get there as quickly as possible.”
Mr Reid said there remains a 'significant challenge' in the hospital system, but the decisions made by critical care teams to manage care has 'saved lives'.
He said: “We’ve 25 ICU beds available on a national level. If we get to the 345 beds - which we now have open on our surge plan... it gets to the point that providing the levels of care want to do and always try to do becomes higher risk."