The wearing of masks in primary schools is among the topics to be discussed by the National Public Health Emergency Team when they meet next week.

It comes as the Department of Health has been notified of a further 6,618 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19, with a further 4,445 positive antigen tests logged through the HSE portal.

The number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 has increased by 20 to 615. Yesterday's hospital figures had been the lowest since late December.

As of this morning, there were 64 people being treated for the virus in intensive care, an increase of one since yesterday.

Primary school children from third class upwards are still required to wear masks.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Áine Lynch from the National Parents Council Primary said that while parents have varying views on their children wearing masks, many are querying why the directive is still in place, given that most restrictions have been lifted.

"We have had a number of parents contacting us, telling us that their children find it uncomfortable and they don't like wearing them," Ms Lynch said.

"A number of parents have talked to us about the fact that when children are talking to each other, they sometimes might pull them down so that they can see each other's faces.

"Or when they're laughing, they'll pull them down. They automatically want to be seen and to see others. Some children have got used to them more than others."

Meanwhile, Seamus Mulconry of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association, said: "We're still seeing high numbers of cases in schools, both amongst pupils and amongst teachers."

"I was in touch with a school today. They had 58 cases last week. In primary schools, we're not there yet and remember we're dealing with the largest group of unvaccinated people on the island," Mr Mulconry said.

"The message that we're getting from our members at the moment is that it is still a difficult and challenging situation out there and let's approach this in a measured and a phased way."

Speaking on the same programme, Professor Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, said that he can understand why children might not want to wear masks, but that some are still being hospitalised having tested positive for Covid-19.

"If you look at the statistics from the National Disease Surveillance Centre, it shows that 27 children from the ages of 5 to 12 were hospitalised in the last two weeks, so it's not trivial for everybody," Prof Mills said.

In Northern Ireland, four more people who had previously tested positive for Covid-19 have died in, the Department of Health said.

Another 2,923 confirmed cases of the virus have also been notified in the last 24-hour reporting period.

This morning, there were 423 Covid-19 inpatients in hospital, with 12 in intensive care.