Ireland’s hospitals are now under “extreme pressure" due to a surge in COVID cases, according to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.
The union says 100 nurses are out of work at Cork University Hospital for reasons related to the virus.
As of 8am this morning, there were 673 patients in hospitals nationwide with coronavirus.
There are 62 people in ICU, with Dr Catherine Motherway warning that the health system will not be able to cope if hospitalisations reach projected levels.
The union has called on the Government to help staff who are struggling to cope with the sheer volume of patients by taking over capacity in private hospitals once again.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said what she is hearing from members across the country this weekend is "deeply disturbing".
"The progress we made on keeping case numbers down seems to be completely undone," she added.
“COVID is creating more patients while also depleting staffing. It’s a vicious combination.
"Staff are far more experienced than they were at the start of this pandemic, but the sheer numbers are difficult to cope with."
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said frontline staff are running "three services in parallel", those being a COVID and non-COVID health service, as well as a mass vaccination scheme.
“On behalf of Ireland’s nurses and midwives, the INMO is asking that the public stay home and strictly follow public health advice. The vaccine is being rolled out – we simply need to keep cases down," she urged.
“We need all hands on deck here. The government and HSE must focus on supporting the exhausted frontline healthcare workers.
"This means taking on additional capacity in the private sector and ensuring the childcare needs of frontline workers are taken into account."
Main image: File photo. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images