A further 2,966 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the State by the Department of Health.
It is the highest number of daily infections reported since January 16th, when 3,231 were recorded following a surge in cases after the Christmas period.
As of 8am on Saturday, there were 470 patients in hospital with Covid-19, of which 92 were being treated in intensive care (ICU).
There were 63 admissions to hospital and 51 discharges in the last 24 hours, according to the Covid-19 data hub. The number in ICU declined over Friday night by four, to 92, with four admissions and eight discharges.
The new figures come as the chief executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE) said impacts from the virus are hitting the heath service hard.
In a tweet on Saturday, Paul Reid said there were “unrelenting and increasing demands on staff in hospitals, ICUs, A&E departments, testing, vaccinations”.
Mr Reid said the health service was “striving to meet all” demands, but “a massive effort by all of us on the public health measures is needed to relieve this and turn it around”.
A surge in absences among healthcare workers and the cancellation of hundreds of planned medical procedures have also been reported due to increased Covid-19 cases.
HSE statistics show that 2,700 health staff are estimated to be off work as a result of the disease, an increase of 900 in a week.
An estimated 440 procedures have been cancelled across 22 acute hospitals in the last two weeks as pandemic-related pressures have mounted.
A HSE spokeswoman said in addition to cancelled procedures “there would be a further impact on elective procedures” as appointments would not have been scheduled at all.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee will hold a crunch meeting on Monday to discuss extending the booster campaign to healthcare workers. Coalition sources expect the outcome will be an expansion of the programme.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has ruled out a widespread return to contact-tracing policies that absent children from the classroom, but said there could be a role for antigen testing in selected situations.
The Department of Health said “mindful of the recent increase in Covid-19 incidence across the population, including amongst children” the National Public Health Emergency Team was reviewing data, international evidence and guidance on the use of antigen testing.
Antigen tests are now being deployed to people who are deemed close contacts to a person infected with Covid-19, and who are asymptomatic, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Saturday.
Mr Donnelly said the rapid tests are also being used in the health sector, and will continue to be deployed “where they’ll benefit”.
To prevent further spread among children over the Halloween weekend, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan has advised people to give treats to trick-or-treaters outdoors if possible.