A further 1,466 cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the State as health officials warned of a rising number of people with the virus being admitted in a serious condition to hospital.
As of 8am on Tuesday, 402 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of which 73 were in intensive care.
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said: "Over recent days we have seen an increasing number of people with Covid-19 admitted to hospital and to intensive care. Recently, approximately 70 per cent of people being treated in intensive care for Covid-19 have not been fully vaccinated. This is a significant cause for concern.
“Vaccination, along with our continuing adherence to the public health advice, will break the chains of transmission and drive down incidence of Covid-19 in our communities.”
Earlier, the HSE revealed the positivity rate for Covid-19 in the community had risen to 10 per cent, with counties Kerry and Waterford reporting rates of up to 15 per cent and a rate of 13 per cent in the border counties Monaghan and Donegal. The positivity rate measures the percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that return positive.
The HSE's national lead for testing and tracing, Niamh O'Beirne told RTÉ Radio's Claire Byrne Live Show that the service will continue "well into next year" with thousands of staff remaining involved.
Ms O’Beirne said there were no plans in place to reduce the level of testing and tracing as further restrictions were eased on October 22nd. The timing of when the country moved from pandemic to endemic was currently unknown, she said.
Testing was busier in the past week in some areas, and additional supports have been put in place to cope with the demand in the short term as more symptomatic people were being tested, which had resulted in more positive cases of Covid-19.
There had always been a high positivity rate for close contacts in households, that was now 25 per cent, while the rate for social contacts was 10 per cent. However, there was also the issue at present of upper respiratory infections which highlighted the importance of people with symptoms being tested, she said.
On Monday 17,000 tests were carried out in the community, which Ms O’Beirne acknowledged was “quite high”, a five per cent increase from the previous week.
As of 8am on Tuesday morning, there were 402 people in hospital with Covid-19, and 73 patients in intensive care with the virus.
On Monday, the Department of Health confirmed 1,358 new cases of Covid-19.
As of Monday, 7,261,695 vaccine doses have been administered in the State. Of these, 3,477,623 are second doses.
Of the people testing positive the median age had changed from 27 years to 34 years, she said, with more people over the age of 65 testing positive and fewer in the teen cohort and in their 20s and 30s.
Unvaccinated people in the 30-50 age group were more likely to end up in hospital she said with 40 to 50 per cent who tested positive being unvaccinated.
Community teams were continuing to monitor outbreaks in residential care settings, among staff and residents, but she did not anticipate a need to restrict visiting hours despite the “continued challenges”. The booster campaign should have a positive impact, she said.
Ms O’Beirne, who was seconded to the HSE to lead the contact tracing service, said she expected to return to her position in EY “sometime this year”. If there came a point when it would be appropriate to change the format of contact tracing, that would be a decision for the National Public Health Emergency Team.