Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said that he is "taking time out" from his work commitments to be with his family as his wife Emer, who has cancer, has been admitted to palliative care.
He said he wanted to give his "energy, attention and all of my time" to his wife and their children.
Dr Ronan Glynn, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, has been appointed acting chief medical officer.
Dr Holohan made a personal statement at the end of this evening's Covid-19 media briefing at the Department of Health.
He said: "From today I'll be taking time out from all of my work commitments to be with my family. My wife Emer was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, in 2012.
"She's had a number of difficult years with her disease and was admitted for palliative care last Saturday and I now want to give my energy and attention and all of my time to Emer and to our two teenage children Clodagh and Ronan."
Dr Holohan said he had spoken to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and other colleagues and "they have all kindly offered their support and best wishes to both of us."
"As a husband and father, and as a public health doctor, I'm conscious that we all have been through tough times together over the last number of months and many families across the country have been affected by the course of Covid-19, suffering pain and loss of loved ones.
"I hope that we can all remain working together to continue to stay vigilant, keep our social distance, and take personal responsibility for our own health, in the first instance, as well as looking after our family members and friends and those we care about most.
"I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support, understanding and respect for my family's privacy and would wish that to continue".
From today, I will be taking time out from all of my work commitments to be with my family.— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) July 2, 2020
I would like to thank everyone for their support, understanding and respect for my family’s privacy and would wish that to continue.
Continue to stay vigilant and look after each other. pic.twitter.com/aNfi88c1Jo
In a statement, the Taoiseach said he would like to thank Dr Holohan "on behalf of myself and the people of Ireland for helping to guide this country through the Covid-19 emergency".
Mr Martin said that Dr Holohan's "work, experience and briefings helped people to understand the gravity of the situation facing us, while his calmness reassured us that if we followed the guidelines and advice we would overcome these great challenges together".
"Every home in Ireland has come to know Dr Tony Holohan. His leadership during the pandemic has given us all confidence that the decisions being made are based on solid public health advice. As a country we owe him and his family a great debt of gratitude."
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly thanked Dr Holohan for "the leadership and extraordinary commitment and professionalism he has shown throughout the Covid-19 pandemic."
Speaking at the Department of Health, Mr Donnelly said that "we are fortunate to have such leadership" and described Dr Holohan as "a rock" who "will be back as a rock."
He said the chief medical officer has "provided stability and calm in a time of crisis."
The minister said the National Public Health Emergency Team had "worked day and night" and had "brought us to where we are now" with Dr Holohan's leadership.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly makes statement after Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan says he is taking time out from work commitments, as his wife was admitted to palliative care | More: https://t.co/qMRBvjczCc https://t.co/8Xz9MuwH91— RTÉ News (@rtenews) July 2, 2020
Former minister for health Simon Harris described Dr Holohan as a patriot in a tweet.
Tony Holohan is a patriot, an incredible public servant & a doctor who has saved thousands of lives through his leadership. He has kept us safe. I valued his counsel as Minister so much. Thank you to his family for sharing him with us. We think of them & respect their privacy— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) July 2, 2020
At this evening's briefing, the Department of Health announced that a further five people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 have died.
The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Ireland now stands at 1,738.
There have been 15 additional confirmed cases, bringing the total number of cases to 25,489.