A further 294 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic by the Department of Health.
The latest update shows 39 people hospitalised with the virus, with 13 patients in intensive care.
The number of hospitalisations represents a drop of 14 inpatients over the past 24 hours, and is the lowest total seen since September 1st.
Chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, tweeted on Tuesday that 22 hospitals around the country currently have either one or zero cases of Covid-19.
“Hospitals are under significant challenge however due to increased Emergency Department attendances and ongoing impacts of the cyberattack,” he added.
This evening's figures come after the Taoiseach confirmed there is no plan to delay the further reopening of the country planned from July 5th, despite the rapid rise of Delta variant cases.
As of midnight, Monday 21st June, we are reporting 294* confirmed cases of #COVID19.
13 in ICU. 39 in hospital.
*Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update.Advertisement
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) June 22, 2021
Micheál Martin was speaking after today’s Cabinet meeting, during which Ministers were briefed on the rising number of infections linked to the variant, according to The Irish Times.
The variant, first identified in India, accounts for around one in five new cases in the Republic over the past week.
Mr Martin told reporters that “we have to be very vigilant and people have to be vigilant in their personal behaviour. The vaccination programme is key.”
Unlike previous reopening steps, plans for July 5th have a heavy focus on indoor activity.
The date is earmarked for the return of indoor hospitality, numbers attending larger indoor events to increase to 100, indoor exercise and sports activities to return and people permitted visitors from up to three other households.
'Watching it carefully'
Meanwhile, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly told reporters that the more infectious variant “has to be taken very seriously”.
“We’ve seen a high number, a high percentage of cases now in Northern Ireland, though their total case numbers remain very low,” he said.
“We’ve seen a lot of cases in Derry for example, so we’re watching it carefully, certainly I am concerned about the Delta variant, we’re watching it on a daily basis, now we’ll be watching it through this week as well.”
On Tuesday, a further 187 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland, with no deaths reported in the past 24 hours. As of Tuesday morning, there were 13 Covid-19 positive patients in hospital in the region, none of whom were in intensive care.
At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Donnelly is understood to have expressed concern to colleagues over the number of Delta variant cases in Derry, especially among the 18-24 age group, and its potential to spread into Donegal.
He also said measures were now being taken to contain an outbreak of the variant in Athlone, including a move to encourage people to avail of free PCR tests.
'Wait and see'
However, Ministers present described the presentation as short and the prevailing attitude as “wait and see”.
“I don’t get the sense there is major concern but more a sense of careful monitoring,” said one Minister present.
Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the rise in Delta variant cases was a cause of concern but there is “no reason to panic at this stage”, adding that the more transmissible variant was set to become dominant in Ireland in the coming weeks.
Ministers said the key presentation would be from Nphet next week, ahead of the final decision to proceed with further reopening — including indoor dining and drinking — on July 5th.
The new variant is considered to be over 50 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha or UK variant. In addition, those who have received the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine do not have a substantial level of protection against the variant.