The Department of Health has confirmed 3,666 new cases of Covid-19 as the Chief Medical Officer said that people appear to be heeding public health advice and are reducing their contacts.

There are 638 patients in hospital with the virus, 130 of whom are in intensive care units.

In a statement, Dr Tony Holohan said: "Our research tells us that people are listening to the public health advice and are reducing the number of people they are planning to meet, and are cancelling social events, to reduce their contacts.

"We know that the level of worry has increased to levels last seen in April this year.

"We know what we are asking people to do to help suppress the spread of disease in our communities is very difficult.

"If we all make a concerted effort it can make a difference.

Dr Holohan asked people, over the coming weeks, to focus on five actions to reduce their risk of contracting Covid-19 and keeping their loved ones safe.

  • If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, isolate immediately and get a PCR test, not an antigen test
  • Prioritise who you need to meet
  • Meet others outdoors and open windows when indoors
  • Wear a mask properly
  • Use the right test and understand what the test result means

NPHET not expecting to recommend restrictions this week

Earlier, the CMO indicated to Opposition TDs that he does not expect the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to recommend further restrictions this week.

NPHET is meeting on Thursday with Dr Holohan telling health spokespersons that he hoped the focus would be on evaluating existing measures but as always there are no guarantees.

His message is consistent with the view building within Government for the last 24 hours.

This afternoon's meeting, which lasted for more than an hour-and-a-half, was said to have painted a picture of a difficult situation but there was no sense of sudden alarm.

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Separately, the virus and the question of other restrictions in the future was not discussed at Cabinet today.

There was no mention either of antigen testing when the Government met in Dublin Castle this morning.

Speaking afterwards, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the possibility of subsidising the cost of antigen tests is still being examined.

Mr Donohoe said work is ongoing around cost and where they will be available.

He said he hoped this work will be finalised soon.

The Taoiseach later told the Dáil that there is a role for regular antigen testing in households.

But Micheál Martin said that when people are symptomatic, they should go and get a PCR test.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Health Service Executive has said that more elective care is being cancelled to deal with the high level of Covid-19 activity in hospitals.

Anne O'Connor said there is evidence of a reduction in people presenting to emergency departments, "which is indicative of people being fearful".

While procedures are being delayed in larger hospitals, Ms O'Connor said the HSE is keen to try and maintain a level of non-coronavirus care in others, adding that "it will all depend on how long these high levels of Covid cases go on for".

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