The number of daily Covid-19 cases in Northern Ireland has almost doubled in the past week, up to nearly 1,400 from the 605 recorded last Friday.
The seven-day case rate is also continuing to rocket, standing at 5,184 on Friday compared to 605 this time last week.
At the same time, hospitals are coming under increasing pressure as positive cases continue to translate into seriously ill patients.
As of Friday, there were 96 Covid-19 inpatients, two of whom were in intensive care. On the other hand, no further deaths were recorded, which demonstrates that the vaccines are, to date, reducing the deadly impact of the virus.
However, an increasing number of experts are voicing concerns over infection rates.
Hospital staff in England, which has to date been harder hit by the latest wave, are reporting that younger people are becoming sicker with the Delta variant.
A consultant in anaesthesia and critical care recently posted a tweet warning that Covid-19 patients were spending longer periods in intensive care, which will put even more pressure on already overstretched critical care services.
According to Dr Caz Sampson, the average length of stay for a patient recovering from heart or major cancer surgery is one to two days.
The average stay for a Covid-19 patient who requires ventilation, meanwhile, is 20 days.
It comes after more than 1,200 scientists, doctors, nurses and other health professionals from around the globe backed a letter to the Lancet journal warning England’s plans for ‘freedom day’ could lead to the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants.
The international experts, including the likes of Professor Martin McKee and Dr Gabriel Scally, warned that the UK’s position as a global transport hub would mean any new variant would rapidly spread around the world.
It will also “disproportionately affect unvaccinated children and young people, who have already suffered greatly”.
The strategy “risks creating a generation left with chronic health problems and disability, the personal and economic impacts of which might be felt for decades to come”, they said, branding the approach “a dangerous and unethical experiment”.
The letter, which also includes signatories from the schools of psychology, medicine, dentistry and biomedical sciences, and chemistry and chemical engineering at Queen’s University, reads: “On July 19, almost all restrictions are set to end. We believe this decision is dangerous and premature.
“The link between infection and death might have been weakened, but it has not been broken, and infection can still cause substantial morbidity in both acute and long-term illness.”
The total number of new Covid cases in the UK topped 50,000 for the first time in six months on Friday.
The Government reported a total of 51,870 infections, the highest number since January 15, when 55,761 cases were detected .
In the Republic of Ireland, 1,173 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed.
As of Friday morning, there were 79 Covid-positive patients in hospital, 23 of whom were in intensive care.