The Heath Service Executive has said it is currently seeing an increase in Covid-19 infections in Ireland, causing hospital admissions.

It said indicators had been trending downwards during May and June, but began to increase again at the end of June.

A similar trend is also occurring in the UK, it added.

The HSE said that no significant increase in infection severity has been observed in Ireland in recent weeks.

It said that the number of patients in ICU with a Covid-19 infection did increase slightly during July, but remains overall low.

The HSE said that as of this morning there were ten patients in ICU with Covid-19, compared to three patients on 1 July.

But it said that, as in previous waves, if Covid-19 case numbers increase substantially, some level of increased hospital and ICU admissions is likely to follow.

St Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny said it is dealing with an outbreak of Covid-19 and has temporarily suspended visiting, except for the maternity unit and in exceptional circumstances.

The hospital said there are a number of Covid and non-Covid patients presenting to its emergency department and while all urgent care cases should still attend the hospital, it urged people to consider other options if possible before coming to the ED.

Several outbreaks are also being managed on inpatient wards at University Hospital Limerick.

Earlier this week, University Hospital Galway said it was also dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak.

UHG said there are currently 39 patients with Covid in the hospital and five wards are affected by outbreaks.

Visiting restrictions are in place in areas of the hospital affected by the outbreak.

It said that in addition to these pressures the Emergency Department is experiencing very high attendances.

The hospital has urged the public not to visit the hospital if they are feeling unwell.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the organisation met the HSE yesterday to discuss the outbreaks.

Speaking with RTÉ's News at One, she said the main concern is whether anything has been done to improve the environment in which patients are being cared for to prevent cross-infection.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said: "To be honest, we are not satisfied that there are measures in place now that were not in place last winter in respect of the air hygiene.

"We are concerned that the numbers on trolleys are still very high for the month of July, higher than this time last year, cumulatively since January 10% higher. So, we are really concerned about this winter."

She said reports from HIQA show that overcrowding is a big reason why cross-infections increase and get worse.