The Department of Health has been notified of 1,361 new cases of Covid-19.

There are 160 patients in hospital who have tested positive for the disease, a rise of eight since yesterday. The number in intensive care units remains unchanged at 26.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said: "We have to continue to drive up vaccination rates as high as possible.

"The higher we go the better the protection we have and the sooner we'll be able to ease more of the economic and social restrictions that still remain in place.

"Walk-in vaccination centres are opening across the country, anyone over 16 years of age can register for a Covid-19 vaccine."

Dr Holohan added: "Encourage your friends and family to ensure they get reliable information about the vaccines available here and to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"For our exhausted healthcare workers, the winter months ahead mean flu, other respiratory infection admissions alongside the backlog of scheduled and unscheduled care that have been disrupted due to Covid-19.

"We owe it to them to continue to maintain the basic personal public health protections."

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There were 1,471 new infections and two deaths reported in Northern Ireland today.

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In a post on Twitter, Dr Holohan said the incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland is mainly among those aged 13-34.

"Vaccination remains our best protection against this disease. While most people in this age group will experience a mild disease, there will be instances of severe illness and a minority will require hospitalisation."

The Health Service Executive has revealed that 71% of adults in Ireland are now fully vaccinated while 86% are partially vaccinated.

The Chief Executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, said the "pace of vaccine roll-out has given us a path to some level of normality where we can rebuild the society and the economy".

Also today, the European Medicines Agency said it has confidence in the safety and efficacy of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines for use among those aged 12 to 15.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly earlier this week confirmed that the Covid-19 vaccination programme will be extended to children in that age cohort.

Meanwhile, a new report from Irish NGOs has found that end-of-life wishes of many older people were not sought or honoured during the pandemic.

The report also found that there was a deep frustration of precious time lost which cannot be regained.

Elsewhere, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said people will not have to prove that they are vaccinated in order to return to the office.

Vaccines have been voluntary and people have responded well, he said.

He also indicated that the Government will look at increasing attendances at next month's All-Ireland finals and semi-finals.

The Taoiseach said discussions were being held with the GAA.

Concerns over Digital Covid Certificates

People receiving their Digital Covid Certificates by post have queried why they are arriving in envelopes from Revenue.

A number of people have expressed privacy concerns about their subsequent use of the certificate.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that there are a number of bodies involved.

"Implementation of the EU Digital Covid Certificate cuts across a number of Government departments and agencies, many of whom are involved in related Covid-19 projects, policy and legislative developments which connect with the implementation of the Certificate," it stated.

Meanwhile complaints continue about the helpline set up with for those with queries about their Digital Covid Certificate or who are applying for a Recovery Cert.

People have complained about being cut off after a minute without even being left on hold.

The Department of Health has admitted that it underestimated the demand for the helpline.

It said it received 54,500 calls between Monday and Tuesday last with just 5,374 calls handled.

There are now 90 agents working on the line.

Meanwhile, the portal set up to allow people to apply online for the Recovery Certificate and bypass the helpline handled 10,500 requests in its first three days of operation.

Additional reporting John Kilraine