The Department of Health has confirmed 4,152 new cases of Covid-19.

There are 543 people in hospital who have tested positive for the virus, up 38 since yesterday. Of these 118 are in ICU, up one.

There has been a total of 5,788 deaths related to Covid-19 notified in Ireland with 81 further deaths in the past week.

In Northern Ireland, a further 1,933 positive Covid cases have been reported, along with five further deaths.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said: "As noted by the World Health Organization today, new data on the Omicron variant are emerging every day, but scientists need time to complete studies and interpret the results. We must be careful about drawing firm conclusions until we have a more complete picture.

"Our high incidence of disease from Covid-19 is driven by the Delta variant. We know how to break the chains of transmission - these measures have worked against previous variants, they can successfully suppress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant."

Dr Holohan added: "Today's announcement that a Covid-19 vaccine will soon be available to children is welcome news and a significant positive step.

"In the meantime, vaccination remains one of the best ways to protect ourselves from severe illness and death from Covid-19. I would encourage anyone yet to receive a first dose to come forward for vaccination as soon as possible."

He urged: "Please prioritise your booster vaccine appointment as soon as you are called for it. Do not wait until after Christmas. The benefits of receiving your booster dose far outweigh any potential risks that may arise in the meantime.

"You will begin to receive the benefit of your booster protection within seven days of receiving your third dose. This means that anybody who received their vaccine this week can be confident in the protection the booster will offer them as we move closer to the Christmas period."

Meanwhile, there has been a steep increase in the number of Covid-19 cases detected in the primary school age group, according to the latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre data.

Last week, 7,359 cases were recorded in the five to 12-year-old age group. This is an increase of 21% compared to the previous week.

The proportion of this age group testing positive out of the general population has also increased to 21.5% of all cases. Last week it was at 19.6%.

Latest Coronavirus news

The rise in positive cases in this age group is likely to be as a result of increased testing of children, since the school antigen testing programme was rolled out last Monday week.

All children who are deemed to be close contacts of a confirmed case are encouraged to take three antigen tests over five days, and to take a PCR test if any of those antigens return a positive.

During its first week in operation, the HSE said that 28,500 antigen tests were distributed via the school programme.

The incidence of the virus in the primary school age cohort has been rising steadily since early October and the extent of the increase is rising too.

The HPSC has said that trends among this age group continue to be observed.

This comes as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommends that Covid-19 vaccinations be offered to children aged five to 11 years.

While some children in this age group may receive their vaccine this month, it is likely to be January before the main programme begins.

Elsewhere, it has been reported that spot checks at Dublin Airport since Sunday found 100 arriving passengers who did not have a completed Covid test.

The Oireachtas Transport Committee heard that around 10% of arrivals in Dublin Airport are checked.

Additional reporting: Emma O Kelly, Mícheál Lehane