NPHET's Prof Philip Nolan said that the population seems to have come close to suppressing Covid-19 and "we're in a good place" in relation to lifting the remaining restrictions by 22 October.

The Chair of NPHET's Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said suppressing the virus is down to very high levels of vaccination and the adherence to public health measures.

Today, the Department of Health was notified of 1,124 new cases of Covid-19.

There are 349 people in hospital with the virus, up 16 from yesterday. Of those, 65 are in intensive care, up one.

The five-day moving average of cases stands at 1,143.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Prof Nolan said: "We're fortunate with our very high level of vaccinations and frankly the very sensible manner in which each and every one of us is taking the precautions, we seem to have come close to suppressing what is a very transmissible virus."

Ireland is living with the aftermath of what was "a very large wave of infection in the 16-34 age group" from the Delta variant, which occurred during the summer, when the population was partially vaccinated, he said.

"We're living with the aftermath of that force of infection right now. The cases we're seeing today are essentially the residual of that."

There are fewer cases in children aged 5-12 and the rates of infection are quite low as a percentage of the entire population, he said.

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Prof Nolan said comparing this week with the week just before schools opened, "they are doing 80% more testing, the positivity rate is less than half of what it was and the incidence is about 25% down".

He said that was really good news and "it's a testament to the mitigation measures that teachers, principals and parents have put in place".

In relation to lifting the remaining restrictions by 22 October, Prof Nolan said "we're in a good place" and "there's nothing in the numbers at the moment, that would change the advice that NPHET would have given Government towards the end of August".

He said the incidence has not gone up because the very high vaccination rate of adults is protecting children by reducing circulation of the virus, mitigation measures in schools and that children under 10-12 years seem to be less likely to catch the virus and less likely to transmit it.

Prof Nolan said the decision not to test children who are close contacts of a confirmed case in the classroom will not hinder the detection of the level of disease in this age group as symptomatic children will still have to present for testing.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has told the Dáil that Ireland is on track to lift existing restrictions on indoor hospitality on 22 October.

He said lifting the restrictions would be subject to a Government decision based on 90% of over-16s being fully vaccinated.

Mr Donnelly quoted Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan who recently said that the future trajectory of the disease cannot be predicted with certainty.

"As a result, a response to the disease that is agile and flexible with an ability to pivot rapidly and respond to any new emerging threats need to be ensured," he said.

He added that Government legislation "is an important part of that response, should the potential for one arise in the future, and while unlikely it cannot be fully ruled out because of the uncertainty of the future trajectory of the virus".

The minister said that he was proposing that an amendment to the Health Act was due to expire 9 October, but would be extended for three months.

However, he added that this was being done to allow the Government to extend the legal framework.

"We are not seeking to extend the time beyond 22 October," he said.

Meanwhile, a professor of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin has said there is no immediate need for all over-18s to get a third dose of Covid-19 vaccines.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Professor Luke O'Neill said there was no evidence of an overall rise in hospitalisations in spite of potential waning immunity, which shows that the vaccines are holding up.

He said people aged over 60 who were given the AstraZeneca vaccine need to have a mRNA booster to improve their overall immunity.

Prof O'Neill also said there was some evidence that the Delta variant may be "as bad as it's going to get" and there is "some hope now that Delta may be the last throw of the dice for the virus".

In Northern Ireland, 1,209 new cases of Covid-19 were reported along with three further deaths in the past 24 hours.

In Northern Ireland today, a further 1,209 new cases were reported along with a further three deaths in people who had tested positive for Covid-19.

This morning, there were 346 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals in Northern Ireland along with 34 in intensive care.

Additional reporting Fergal Bowers