The Department of Health has reported 1,558 new coronavirus cases.

It said that the number of people with the virus being treated in hospital is at 262, an increase of 14 since yesterday.

There are 51 patients being treated in intensive care, up three on yesterday.

The Chief Medical Officer has said that despite growing levels of vaccination, there is a very high level of disease circulating in the community.

Dr Tony Holohan said that the Delta variant has enabled the coronavirus to "regain a foothold in Ireland", and that the spread of the virus is being monitored with some concern.

"Vaccines will help us turn the tide, but we are not there yet," he said.

"We need to give vaccines the time and space to build up levels of protection across all demographics so that we can continue to progress the reopening of all sectors of society and our economy."

Dr Holohan urged people to get their Covid vaccine and to closely follow public health guidelines over the coming weeks, in particular in the run up to the reopening of schools next month.

Meanwhile, the head of the intensive care unit at University Hospital Limerick has said that people with Covid-19 in ICU are predominantly unvaccinated or fully vaccinated but have underlying health conditions.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Catherine Motherway said they are seeing a "number of people who are not yet vaccinated for various reasons.

"We are seeing a number of those in the younger age groups coming to us now because they, in the main, are less vaccinated than older people because of the way the vaccination programme rolled out.

"And for the unvaccinated it is the same as the last time. They get respiratory failure. They get really sick. They have generally got underlying conditions, including obesity, heart disease, lung disease, that sort of patient comes to us."

Dr Catherine Motherway (Pic:

According to the latest HSE data, there are currently 31 adult ICU beds free in the hospital system, with a total of 296 adult ICU beds open and staffed. There are also 252 general beds free.

Dr Motherway said that "hopefully" we will not see the number of people in ICU reach the heights seen during January of this year as the vaccination programme continues to roll out.

"It's much better than it was, but it's still a challenge," she said.

"We still have to comply with public health guidelines," she added, saying that she thinks we will be "stuck with the masks for quite some time".

Dr Motherway urged those who have yet to receive the vaccination to make sure that they get it as soon as possible.

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"We all need to continue doing what we are doing and if you haven't been vaccinated, get vaccinated.

"Now we have enough, it's really, really important for you, your safety and that of your family and also that of the general population."

Dr Motherway insisted that the vaccines are making a difference.

"There is absolutely no doubt that vaccination has been absolutely life-saving in the past number of months.

"We would see far more people sick and far more people in ICU if it wasn't for the vaccination programme."

Speaking on Twitter this afternoon, the head of the Health Service Executive, Paul Reid, said that 6.3 million vaccines have been administered so far in the country.

Virus 'finding the people who haven't been vaccinated'

The Chair of the GP Committee of the IMO, has said that over the past two weeks, he has seen in his practice that "the virus is finding the people who haven't been vaccinated".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Philip Boucher Hayes, Dr Denis McCauley said unfortunately some of them are getting quite unwell and need to go into hospital, including those who have been vaccinated.

"When that happens, the vaccine generally protects them, but that doesn't always happen, particularly if they have significant health issues," Dr McCauley said.

He said from his experience about 10-15% of cases are occurring in those who are already vaccinated. He said north Donegal has has "a very high incidence because of its close association with Derry".

Dr McCauley said he believes that socialising is the main source of transmission.

He said: "It's indoor contact with people who are not vaccinated and you haven't got a mask on.

"I think at this stage, there isn't a differentiation between a bar in Derry and a social gathering in north Donegal.

"We expect the numbers in Ireland to probably continue to go up for the next month."