There are 169 people in hospital with Covid-19, 23 of whom are in intensive care units (ICU).
Speaking as the latest figures were released, Dr Holohan said: “Vaccination and the incredible uptake across many age groups is leading us to a turning point in the pandemic. If we experience similar uptake in the younger cohorts as experienced in the over-60s, Ireland will have a strong population-level defence against Covid-19 and its known variants.”
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said: “If you experience any symptoms of a cold or flu, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, change in taste or smell, headache, sore throat, runny nose or blocked nose/sinuses, please isolate and come forward for a test. There are testing centres located in every county in Ireland.”
Also on Friday, Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Paul Reid said there has been a steady rise in hospitalisations from Covid-19 over the last four weeks, rising from 39 patients to 169.
He told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne show on Friday that “while we are seeing some positive indicators in virus trends and daily cases over the last few days, we are certainly not out of the woods”.
The situation is severely impacting on hospitals as every Covid patient has “a significant and disproportionate effect on the healthcare system”, he said.
Mr Reid said attendance in emergency departments is up 20 per cent on last year, with many delayed presentations for non-Covid illness and older people attending.
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said on Friday that the counties with the highest 14-day incidence rate are Donegal at 954 per 100,000 people, Louth (633), Galway (516), Laois (496) and Monaghan (443).
The latest case and hospital numbers follow confirmation from the HSE that the Covid-19 vaccination programme for the 12 to 15-year-old age cohort will commence in August through vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies.
Damian McCallion, the HSE’s lead for the programme, said adjustments will have to be made to the IT system to allow for parental consent.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Friday that he anticipates this work will be completed shortly and the rollout of the programme can be extended to the 12 to 15-year-old age group “in the next couple of weeks”.
Mr McCallion said more than 280,000 teens will be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and that geography and access would determine where the vaccines will be available.
An information campaign for families will explain the benefits of vaccination and the HSE will also work with marginalised communities to ensure that gaps were identified and addressed, he said.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed earlier this week that the Covid-19 vaccination programme will be extended to all those aged 12 to 15 following a recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).
Both mRNA vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – have been approved by the EMA for use in this age group.
Anyone aged over 16 who has not yet been vaccinated can avail of the walk-in centres around the country over the bank holiday weekend.
Mr McCallion said that even people holidaying in another part of the country could have their first dose this weekend and then get their second dose closer to their home address in four weeks.
The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has said that all of the country’s 19 maternity units will be fully compliant in the coming week with regard to allowing partners to accompany pregnant women for routine visits.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Henry acknowledged that there had been problems, particularly around infrastructure in some of the units.
Dr Henry said that the latest guidelines would be in place in all units within a week.
“Those four criteria – neo-natal unit, the presence of partners during labour in the labour ward, the anomaly scan, visits to post-natal wards – all units are compliant with those,” he said.
“The further easing that took place at the end of June – the early pregnancy assessment units, routine visits for women with high-risk pregnancy and emergency presentations in late gestation – the great majority are compliant with those.”
Meanwhile, updated guidance for the hospitality sector has clarified that while table service is the safest mode of service, counter service (which includes self-service, buffet and carvery), can be permitted “where safe queueing and compliance with other key requirements can be implemented”.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it has been “gratifying” to see so many businesses reopening in recent days, many for the first time since March 2020.
“Anecdotally we understand that the new arrangements are working well and we urge both businesses and customers to embrace the new arrangements in a safe manner as we approach the Bank Holiday weekend,” Mr Varadkar said.