The fact that people are "back to normal" with no public health measures in place is contributing to the rise in Covid-19 cases, a leading immunologist has said.

Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin Kingston Mills said the lack of social distancing, no masks, and "a lot of contact" are contributing to the rise in virus cases.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, Prof Mills said a lot of the Covid cases in hospital are incidental.

However he said that for people that are older or with underlying medical conditions Covid-19 is still a concern and if they have not been vaccinated with a fourth dose, they should get it

"The other worrying statistic is the positivity rate of those that are tested has gone up from 16 to 22%," Prof Mills added.

He said the worry with this virus is that it keeps changing and it makes it more difficult for the vaccines to work. However, he said they help prevent serious illness.

As of 8am, there were 397 people in hospital with Covid-19, according to latest figures. This is an increase of 37 from yesterday's statistics.

There are currently 24 people with the virus in ICU.

Latest Covid cases

Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, consultant in infectious diseases at St James's hospital in Dublin, yesterday said that the country may face a virus wave with a mutation that escapes vaccines better.

''We should use this time wisely,' Dr Ní Cheallaigh told RTÉ News.

''A lot of the problems we faced in earlier waves, including ICU capacity and health system capacity, have not been fixed.''

Dr Ní Cheallaigh warned that Ireland needs to be prepared for the next wave of Covid ''because by the time the wave hits, it is too late to do any of that work''.