The Minister for Health has said that those aged 16 and 17 can register for a Covid-19 vaccine appointment from tomorrow.

In a tweet, Stephen Donnelly said: "It is important that we continue to get as many of our population vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available and following the safety advice of our experts".

It comes as a specialist at the Department of Public Health in the Midlands raised concerns about some teenagers and young adults who may have intentionally contracted the virus to get a Digital Covid Certificate.

Calling it "extremely risky and extremely dangerous", Dr Douglas Hamilton said the Delta variant currently circulating has higher morbidity and mortality rates, even among the young, and that young people also have to be aware of the risks of 'long Covid', which can result in lifelong cardiac, respiratory, cerebral or renal disease.

The Chief Medical Officer, meanwhile, appealed to people to continue to follow public health advice as coronavirus case numbers continue to rise.

The Department of Health has been notified of 1,345 new cases of Covid-19.

There were 141 people being treated for the virus in hospital at 8am today, up 18 from yesterday.

The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units is 25, an increase of three.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "We are currently experiencing high incidence of Covid-19 across many counties.

"There has been a significant increase in hospitalisation over the last fortnight.

"Please continue to avoid crowded spaces, keep distance from others, keep indoor settings well ventilated by opening windows and doors, wear a mask where appropriate."

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer said that 87% of cases today are in those aged under 45.

Dr Ronan Glynn said: "If you are awaiting your vaccine or are awaiting your second dose, continue to protect yourself by following public health advice."

Doctor raises concerns about gatherings of teenagers and young adults

A specialist at the Department of Public Health in the Midlands has raised concerns about some teenagers and young adults who may have intentionally contracted the virus to get a Digital Covid Certificate.

Calling it "extremely risky and extremely dangerous", Dr Douglas Hamilton told RTÉ News that they have heard from "some worried parents who said that this may have happened".

"They have tried to convince their children not to pursue this ... but unfortunately ... haven't been able to," Dr Hamilton added.

Dr Hamilton, a Specialist in Public Health Medicine, said this information came from a number of different parents in relation to a number of different settings in the Midlands and beyond.

"It is extremely risky and extremely dangerous", Dr Hamilton said.

"Our advice is absolutely not to do this, but instead to get vaccinated and there are lots of opportunities now certainly for over 18s and soon for over 16s (to be vaccinated against Covid-19).

"We have the portal ... and of course now many pharmacies right across the country provide not only Johnson and Johnson but also mRNA vaccines," Dr Hamilton said.

He said that the Delta variant has higher morbidity and mortality rates, even among the young, and young people also have to be aware of the risks of 'long Covid'.

Dr Hamilton said that young people who intentionally catch Covid-19 also risk spreading it to elderly and other vulnerable people who may not have mounted as good an immune response to vaccination as younger and fully fit people.

All adults in Ireland can register for a Covid-19 vaccine, and from tomorrow those aged 16 and 17 will be able to register for an appointment.

Elsewhere, the Government is seeking data on the number of patients who are admitted to hospital due to Covid complications compared to those who test positive after being admitted for other reasons.

Today, indoor hospitality resumed for the first time since last December, while so-called 'wet pubs' around the country, which were closed in March last year when Covid-19 restrictions came into effect, can also open their doors.

It comes as hoteliers are calling on the Government to make a clear announcement on wedding guest numbers this week.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said she has "every confidence" that her department "has the capacity for the full reopening of schools in late August, early September".