PEOPLE in Ireland are currently 100 times more likely to be exposed to coronavirus than they were four months ago, according to figures.
The Department of Health has appealed for people to adhere to public health guidance and follow the rules at all times following the country's move to Level Five on Thursday.
Ireland's Covid-19 incidence rate now exceeds 300 per 100,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
It's now more than 100 times higher than it was during the summer.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Heather Burns said: "The 14-day incidence rate was at three per 100,000 at the end of June, today it is 302 per 100,000 population.
"The risk of being exposed to Covid-19 is now 100 times greater than it was four months ago.
"Please limit your risk by staying at home and following public health advice," she added.
The plea comes as a further 1,066 cases of the virus and three further deaths were confirmed on Thursday by the department.
On Monday, the Irish government made the decision to move the country to Level Five of the Living With Covid Plan following advice from NPHET that it was the only way to stop the crisis from becoming unmanageable.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that Level Five restrictions were necessary because the disease is at "very serious levels in our country and posing significant risk to public health."
Dr Holohan also stressed that everyone should behave as if they are a close contact of someone who has been diagnosed with the virus, and limit interactions with others wherever possible, for the time being at least.
Ireland will remain in Level Five or six weeks, though a review of the situation will take place after four, after which restrictions could be extended, lowered or lifted altogether.