The CEO of the HSE says Ireland is at the highest risk position in relation to Covid-19 to date.
Paul Reid says health officials are working on the ‘absolute premise’ that the new contagious strain of the virus is already here.
The country will start reverting back to Level 5 restrictions from tomorrow in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.
Hotels, gastropubs, hairdressers, and beauticians will have to close, while restrictions on household visits and inter-county travel will be phased in from St Stephen's Day.
970 new cases were recorded yesterday; the highest in almost two months.
Paul Reid says checking for the new strain is now part of the testing process:
"We haven't identified it to date, but that doesn't indicate it isn't here. We're working on the absolute premise it is here."
Main image: File photo of Paul Reid. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland