The Department of Health has confirmed 1,997 new cases of Covid-19.

There are 324 people being treated in hospital, this is down two on yesterday's figures. Of these, there are 61 people being treated in ICU, up two.

In Northern Ireland, 1,430 positive cases and six deaths have been reported in the past 24 hours.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the current levels of transmission are "simply too high".

In a post on Twitter this afternoon, Dr Holohan said: "We continue to see levels of transmission of Covid-19 that are simply too high and would be categorised as a dark red country according to the ECDC. It is important that we continue to follow the public health advice this weekend."

Dr Holohan's comments come as the Chair of the Vaccination Taskforce said it is likely that 90% of over 18s will be fully vaccinated by mid September.

Prof Brian MacCraith said 87.8% of over 18s have received two doses and 91.7% of this age cohort have received one dose.

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Speaking on RTÉ's Brendan O'Connor programme, he said we are now at the "final furlong" of the vaccination programme and that the "emergency phase" of the roll-out will finish at the end of September.

He said that the uptake among the 12-15 years olds is slower with about 50% having come forward for vaccination so far.

Prof MacCraith expects that this will reach about 60%, and he said he believes the lower uptake in this category is due to the need for dialogue with parents.

The Chief Executive of the HSE Paul Reid said: "The finishing line of this phase of the vaccination programme is so close now."

In a post on Twitter, Mr Reid said: "Our focus still remains to give as many as possible protection. Walk in vaccination centres continue this weekend for aged 12s & over."

Prof MacCraith said he believes that the high vaccine uptake here is due to the fact that we have an educated population who trusted the science.

He also said that the abundance of caution shown by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee meant people trusted in the advice.

And he said that the quality of information provided by public service media also played a role.

Prof MacCraith said we are now second in Europe only to Malta in terms of vaccine uptake, which he described as "remarkable".

He also said there could be between 200,000 and 300,000 excess Pfizer vaccines here at the end of the programme.

He said we are currently receiving about 180,000 Pfizer doses a week and that about 400,000-500,000 would be required to finish off the existing programme.

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He said there was always going to be an excess because the Government had ordered more than 16 million doses, and that Government would announce in the coming weeks what would be done with the excess vaccines.

Prof MacCraith said that some of this will be diverted to the developing world as part of the Covax programme.

He said there is a fundamental ethical issue in terms of having more vaccines than are required, but he said no decisions could be made until the plan for a booster programme was clearer.

He also said it is not yet clear if the Vaccine Taskforce will have a role in any booster programme.

The European Medicines Agency has not yet given approval for the vaccines to be used as boosters, he said.