Ireland is facing four more waves of Covid-19, a leading public health doctor has warned.
Dr Anthony Staines, professor of Health Systems at Dublin City University (DCU), said Ireland is currently in the second phase of the pandemic and if the current strategy on dealing with the virus remains unchanged, there will be four more waves until a vaccine is found.
Modelling by Dr Staines, and his colleagues on the "Zero-Covid" policy group predicts a final wave of the virus in May 2021.
"At the minute we are in wave two," he said.
"We would hope that there will be a vaccine available in the middle of next year, there almost certainly won't be one sooner and it might be a lot later. We are in the second wave at the minute, the third wave will come at the end of September/October, fourth wave Christmas, fifth wave late February/early March, sixth wave April or May.
"If we continue to do what we are doing, just bring the number of cases down, they will probably go up again."
The grim warning came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland passed 7,000, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
Eighty-five new cases were reported yesterday, taking the total number to 7,049. The seven-day total is 431. No further deaths were reported here.
There are 17 people in hospital with Covid-19, with two patients in intensive care.
In the Irish Republic, 127 new cases of the virus were announced last night. No further deaths associated with the virus were reported.
It brings the total number of cases there to 28,578, while the death toll remains at 1,777.
Dr Staines suggested a "county by county" approach to dealing with the virus in Ireland could be adopted that would see "GAA matches being played in front of crowds by November".
Meanwhile, Dr Gabriel Scally, president of the public health section at the UK's Royal Society of Medicine, said a continued reliance on older people to protect themselves from younger people with the virus will lead to an "apartheid society."
Both experts have called for a more robust testing system at airports as Ireland enters into a "new and challenging" phase in the fight against Covid-19.
In Co Armagh, an outbreak of Covid-19 at Craigavon Area Hospital has forced the cancellation of surgery planned for next week.
Ten patients and 11 staff at Craigavon Area Hospital are now confirmed to have Covid-19, after two clusters were identified on the site.
On the Haematology Ward, 10 of the 12 ward patients have tested positive. Eight members of staff on the ward have also tested positive, and are off work and self-isolating.
Dr Sara Hedderwick, an infectious medicine consultant with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, told the BBC: "Obviously it's concerning to us whenever we have patients with Covid and it's particularly concerning when those are vulnerable people or immuno-compromised like our haematology group of patients are.
"So we're doing everything possible to make sure that they stay well and that they are seen by the right doctors and nurses and cared for in the right place."
A planned Orthopaedic Surgery list for Wednesday has been cancelled to back-fill Trauma theatre, where one staff member had worked and where other staff are now self-isolating.
Three gyms in Lurgan have also closed due to positive tests from either customers or staff.
Separately, statistics agency Nisra published its latest weekly Covid-19 bulletin which suggests the death toll linked to Covid-19 here is 871.
Nisra's figures are separate from those published each day by the Department of Health.
They include confirmed infections and suspected cases in which coronavirus is mentioned on the death certificate.
Of the 871 deaths to August 21, 460 (52.8%) took place in hospital, 351 (40.3%) in care homes, eight (0.9%) in hospices and 52 (6%) at residential addresses or other locations. The 359 deaths which occurred in care homes and hospices involved 81 separate establishments.