Most people with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are experiencing mild symptoms, according to a leading GP.
Dr Ray Walley, a member of the National Covid-19 GP Liaison Committee, urged for a focus on the need to isolate rather than on testing.
He called on the public not to contact GP surgeries in an effort to speed up access to PCR testing.
“If you have mild symptoms you shouldn’t be ringing your GP, use the (online booking) system yourself. There is information on the HSE website on what to do,” he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
GPs wanted to keep their phone lines available for patients with severe illnesses and acute issues, he said.
Most people were getting appointments for PCR testing within 24 to 36 hours. Slots for PCR testing would become available and it was important for people to be tested for contact tracing purposes, he added.
Dr Walley said high numbers of Covid-19 cases were being recorded in many other countries, with record figures being reported. This was going to happen in Ireland, he warned.
“It is going to get worse. We will see admissions (to hospitals) go up and that is concerning.”
Meanwhile, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that infections in the Republic fuelled by the Omicron variant will remain very high for the "next few days" but should peak "in the next week or so".
The Omicron wave is likely to be "overcome" faster than previous waves of the virus, Mr Varadkar said, although he cautioned that January will be a "difficult" month.
Earlier on Wednesday, the HSE’s chief operations officer Anne O’Connor called on the public to get their booster vaccine and to behave as if they have the virus if they have symptoms or a positive antigen test.
People aged 30-39 can get a booster vaccine as of today at walk-in clinics or by booking online. Boosters are also available to those aged 16-29 who received the one-shot Janssen vaccine, in line with guidance from the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac).