THE National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has warned that Ireland's Covid-19 situation could severely deteriorate over the next few weeks if caution isn't taken.
In a letter to the Government, the public health officials said that case numbers could increase to 2,000 per day within a month, which would seriously hamper Ireland's reopening plan.
They warned that current infection levels are twice the level they were when restrictions were eased at Christmas, and "50 times that in late June 2020" when the country emerged from the very first lockdown.
On Tuesday, the Government announced that they'd begin easing lockdown restrictions on April 12, rather than April 5 as initially thought.
NPHET told ministers that Ireland does not have the same "headroom" that was available last summer when case numbers were low and that the situation remain "precarious".
This, NPHET says, is due to three reasons: a high level of infection and daily cases, a more transmissible variant and a reproductive number already estimated to be at or above 1.
The team also says that the dominance of the UK variant means that viral transmissions and the R number "will be 30-70% greater than in 2020."
Earlier this week, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn warned that easing lockdown restrictions too early could bring about a fourth wave of coronavirus in Ireland, which he argued could last until mid-summer.