The number of COVID-19 deaths is set to rise 'very sharply' in January, Dr Tony Holohan has warned.
He says the mortality rate lags behind the surge in new cases and hospital admissions, but there will be a 'significant multiple' this month compared to what we saw in November and December.
While daily case numbers have reached record highs, Dr Holohan said there are now 'early signs of encouragement' that people are cutting the number of close contacts.
He said the situation can be turned around if everyone follows the public health advice.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Officer has also admitted he and NPHET are concerned about the significant increase in COVID-19 cases among school children.
Senior Ministers are meeting this afternoon to discuss whether schools should close for January because of the high rate of infection.
Latest figures show the incidence rate is 284 per 100,000 among teenagers, and 142 per 100,000 among 5 to 12 year olds.
Dr Holohan told Newstalk lots of work has been done to keep children safe in schools.
However, he said the levels of infections in children of school-going age have increased "very significantly, even if they are less than the average rate in the population".