A leading academic has said it's disgraceful that the First and deputy First Ministers have not held a joint briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic for over a month.
Deirdre Heenan's comments come after the latest figures show that over 11,000 new cases were reported in Northern Ireland in just one week.
Professor Heenan, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Ulster University, told the Belfast Telegraph that there was a "chronic lack of leadership" at Stormont at this critical time.
She called on the political parties to set aside their constitutional differences for the good of the public.
"This government has abjectly failed to look after people here," she said.
"Apart from the mixed messages, the confused messages, the finger pointing and the acrimony at the head of government, it's very hard to have any confidence that they know what they're doing.
"It seems like we just lurch from one crisis to the next, that they've disappeared - we haven't had a joint briefing since December 2 - in the hope that the vaccine will come along and that this will all go away."
Latest Covid-19 figures from the Department of Health show that Northern Ireland has recorded six more virus-related deaths and 1,662 new cases.
On Sunday, there were 507 inpatients who had tested positive for coronavirus, and 36 Covid-19 patients in intensive care.
The figures bring the total number of deaths to 1,354, while 78,072 people have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began.
The 11,000 cases reported in the past seven days is more than double the week before.
The Londonderry-based Ulster University professor said the situation was a national disgrace.
"So many people have died, and we've heard nothing from our devolved government, who appear to be on their holidays," she said.
"We're engulfed in a crisis and there's no visible leadership.
"We need reassurance that someone is addressing the issue.
"Instead, we've had radio silence."
Prof Heenan stressed that the Executive needs to restore confidence - although she also said that was problematic.
"In the face of a global pandemic, we seem to have a government that still sees decision making through the optics of constitutional, tribal politics," she said.
"That is always to the fore of their political compass, even when people are dying."
There were 1,830 confirmed Covid-19 cases over the last week to January 2 in the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon council area - the highest number in Northern Ireland.
A further 1,649 were recorded in Belfast, followed by 1,335 in Newry, Mourne and Down, 1,325 in Mid-Ulster, and 1,121 in Derry City and Strabane.
With 440 confirmed cases, Ards and North Down council area was the lowest in the region.
There were 889 cases in Antrim and Newtownabbey, 755 in Mid and East Antrim, 747 in Lisburn and Castlereagh, 738 in Fermanagh and Omagh and 716 in Causeway Coast and Glens.
Another 265 confirmed Covid cases were not geographically pinpointed.
Dr Alan Stout, the chair of Northern Ireland's GP committee, was one of several medical professionals who warned political leaders of the consequences of not taking control of the disease early enough.
In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph - just as retail, hospitality and close contact services were due to reopen for one week in December before Christmas - he warned that we "could be walking into a perfect storm".
In the Republic, seven more Covid-19 related deaths were recorded, bringing to 2,259 the death toll there.
The Irish Department of Health also confirmed 4,962 more Covid-19 cases.
Northern Ireland is in the second week of a six-week lockdown, which began on Boxing Day and is due to be reviewed after four weeks.
Stricter measures, including a "stay-at-home curfew", ended on Saturday. On Sunday Colm Gildernew called for the health committee to be urgently recalled to discuss the crisis.
The Sinn Fein MLA and chair of the Assembly's Health Committee said there was "growing concern" at the "dramatic rise" in the number of people testing positive with Covid-19.
"It is necessary for the health committee to consider a number of urgent issues," he said.
"These include the new variant of virus and the current pressure on our hospitals and health and social care services as we face into the difficult months of January, February and March."