The Chief Medical Officer has said that there has been no discussion about Covid-19 patients from Northern Ireland being treated in intensive care units here if required.

Dr Tony Holohan said cooperation across the border is always on the agenda but that this has not been addressed specifically in meetings with public health officials in Northern Ireland.

However, he said there is "no area that we aren't prepared to engage in discussion with our colleagues in Northern Ireland about and do what we can to see how we can help".

Dr Holohan said he is very aware of the challenges with ICU capacity in Northern Ireland an that he really feels for them in terms of the challenges they face.

It comes as the latest figures from the North's Department of Health show that 722 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall total to 35,554.

Thirteen further deaths have also been reported, taking the death toll to 671.

Earlier, a health official in Northern Ireland said the pressure on hospitals there is building, with the Antrim Area Hospital warning it is operating beyond capacity.

Director of Operations for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust Wendy Magowan said there were 35 people in the hospital's emergency department this morning, 33 of whom are waiting for a bed.

The figure is up from 27 yesterday.
 

In a statement issued to RTÉ NEWS, the Department of Health said there is "long standing cooperation and collaboration" between health authorities north and south and that this "also applies in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic which does not respect borders".

The Department said that senior clinicians have been engaging directly to ensure readiness for mutual support should the need arise.

However, it says it is important to emphasise that the public health measures brought in on both sides of the border are intended to flatten the curve and avoid the need for such arrangements.