THE NUMBER of daily Covid-19 cases in Ireland has hit its highest total in three weeks.
According to the latest government figures 769 new infections were detected in the past 24 hours while a further two deaths, both of which occurred this month, has also been confirmed.
Of those cases, 381 have been attributed to men while 378 are women with 75% of cases occurring in individuals under the age of 45.
The median age for new cases meanwhile stands at 32.
Dublin recorded the highest number of new cases with 284, ahead of Donegal (67), Offaly (47), Meath (45) and Kildare (44). The remaining 282 cases were reported across 20 other counties.
At present there are 360 patients with Covid-19 in hospital in Ireland. Of that number, 82 are currently being treated in ICU.
This total of 360 is an increase of 32 on the figures published a day earlier.
Over the past 24 hours, there have been a further 19 hospitalisations.
Ireland's 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population now stands at 155.3.
The rate has been at 150 per 100,000 for roughly a week.
To date, there have been 4,587 Covid-19 related deaths and 230,599 cases in Ireland since the pandemic began a year ago.
Reid told Newstalk On The Record programme: "We're at no way normal levels in our hospitals."
"In the last week when we saw the numbers stuck for the past few weeks, they had come down for the past five or six weeks very well.
"A slight increase again this weekend would give us concern around trends, particularly in line with some of the cases we're seeing come through this weekend, a slight rise in cases would give us concern."
Reid said he had sensed "frustration and anger" amongst the public in recent days.
"All we can do is tell the facts of where things are at the minute and you would be concerned with what you see happening across Europe," he added.
"From the HSE's perspective, we still see a very high positivity rate."
However, he continued to urge caution, noting that close contact with a positive case carried a 25% likelihood of becoming infected.
"We know the transmission levels, particularly of this B117 variant, are still very strong and the positivity rate is still very high," he said.
"It is important that everyone protects themselves and hold their guard."
The warnings come as Ireland’s vaccine rollout continues to draw criticism.
So far 654,251 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland since March 18.
It follows the decision to temporarily suspend use of the AstraZeneca vaccine following a handful of reports in Europe of recipients suffering blood clotting issues.
The EMA later cleared the vaccine for use, but the delay has impacted Ireland.
With concern growing in the HSE about the number of Covid-19 cases in the community and the rising hospital admissions, the Irish government is under pressure to step up its inoculation plans.