There have been 1,866 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed by the Department of Health.

The number of people in hospital who have tested positive for the disease is 331, eight more than yesterday. Of these, 61 are receiving treatment in intensive care, an increase of five overnight.

The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said: "This evening, 61 people with Covid-19 are receiving critical care in hospital. That is the highest number since 3 April this year.

"Critical care is our last line of defence against Covid-19 and I know this figure will concern many of us.

"There are however many other ways we can protect ourselves and our loves ones from severe outcomes from Covid-19."

Dr Holohan added: "Vaccination remains our best means of protection. The vaccines available in Ireland are very safe and effective against Covid-19.

"There are still some people who haven't yet taken up the opportunity of vaccination or, who have delayed receiving a second dose for various reasons.

"I strongly encourage anyone who is in this position to ensure they get fully vaccinated as soon as possible in order to best protect themselves and those around them.

"If you complete your vaccine schedule you will be fully protected seven – 14 days after your second dose."

Meanwhile the National Public Health Emergency Team has called for 90% of over 16s to be fully vaccinated before a further widespread easing of restrictions, it is understood.

The Health Service Executive has said more than 84% of people aged 16 and over are currently fully vaccinated while 90.3% have received their first dose.

The criteria is contained in NPHET's latest letter to the Government containing recommendations on the next stage of the pandemic.

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One Government source said there was surprise at the request and that it was a very high threshold.

It is likely to take another six weeks to meet that target.

In the letter, NPHET said that once the threshold is reached, a switch could take place from a focus on regulations to public health advice and personal judgment.

However, it also advised that masks would still be required for indoor retail and public transport.

Yesterday, NPHET said the total number of Covid-related deaths in Ireland stands at 5,092 - up 18 since it last reported data on deaths last Wednesday.

In Northern Ireland, four further deaths of patients with Covid-19 have been reported today.

Stormont's Department of Health said there have also been 1,550 new confirmed cases in the last 24-hour reporting period. There are 376 Covid-positive patients in hospital, with 41 in intensive care.

So far 2,428,676 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland.