Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin has said “further action” is needed following a recommendation from public health bosses to introduce a second lockdown.
Government leaders will meet on Saturday to discuss the advice to move the entire country to level five restrictions for a period of six weeks.
It is the second such recommendation from Nphet in the last two weeks but Government has not heeded the advice so far.
Speaking in Brussels on Friday, Mr Martin said the advice was “very serious” and had to be given proper consideration.
He said: “We’re giving this very active consideration, the advice. The situation is very serious.
“We will need further action in relation to this. When we respond it will be a comprehensive response.”
Mr Martin will meet with coalition leaders Leo Varadkar and the Green party’s Eamon Ryan, health minister Stephen Donnelly, finance minster Paschal Donohoe and public expenditure minister Michael McGrath.
But he has not indicated whether Government will accept the advice, which has come following a week of record coronavirus cases in Ireland.
He said: “We’ve moved to level three already, we’ve already said to people no visitors to your home.
“We have measures in place in Ireland that many European countries, even though they jave higher figures than Ireland, don’t have in place.
“That said, we take advice from Nphet very seriously. This advice will have to be given good consideration. We want to have the situation well documented, well prepared.”
Earlier, Leo Varadkar refused to rule out a second coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Varadkar said moving to level five restrictions would be “difficult” but did not rule it out.
He told reporters: “I’m not saying that it won’t happen or that it’s being ruled out or anything like that.
“I think a second time can be difficult for people, for businesses. There will be some businesses that maybe could survive losing three or four months revenue, but not another period.
“I think a lot of people who felt the social isolation back in the spring, that would be really difficult a second time around, particularly when we are into winter and bad weather and dark nights.”
The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that all 26 counties should move to level 5 restrictions under the Government’s five-tier response plan in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.
Level 5 restrictions would mean people would not be allowed travel more than 5km from their homes, all non-essential retail outlets would have to close, and restaurants and cafes would only be allowed to provide delivery and takeaways.
No more than 10 people would be allowed to attend a funeral, while weddings would be limited to a maximum of six attendees.
The advice was contained in a letter to the Government on Thursday night.
It comes less than two weeks since NPHET told the Government that a move to level 5 restrictions was necessary.
The Government rejected the advice and opted to introduce level 3 restrictions nationwide on October 6 instead.
The latest advice was due to be discussed at a meeting between Government officials and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan on Friday.
The recommendation follows stricter restrictions coming into effect across the country for four weeks.
Household visits have been banned across all 26 counties except for compassionate grounds and essential reasons such as such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, or those who live alone.
Counties Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan also moved to level four restrictions.
It means mean non-essential retail and personal services have had to close in those counties.
No more than 25 people can attend a funeral service and, as of Monday, a maximum of six people can attend a wedding.
Cafes, pubs serving food and restaurants can only serve a maximum of 15 people outside.
The measures were introduced at midnight and will remain in place until November 10.
Our public health teams are managing huge outbreaks.We've tested over 100,000 last week. We've put more ICU beds in. I plead, lets all stop looking elsewhere & now to ourselves. We owe it to our healthcare workers.That's what they ask me to ask you. Lets do it. @HSELive #COVID19— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) October 16, 2020
Three more deaths and 1,000 more cases of Covid-19 were confirmed by NPHET on Friday.
Of the latest coronavirus cases, 254 were in Dublin, 102 in Meath, 88 in Cork, 81 in Cavan, 75 in Galway and the remaining 400 were spread across 20 counties.
As of 2pm on Friday, 246 Covid-19 patients were being treated in hospital, of whom 30 were in intensive care.
The chief medical officer warned on Thursday that the situation is “rapidly deteriorating”.
Dr Holohan expressed “extreme concern” at the increased spread of the virus over the last week in particular, revealing that the number of positive cases over the past week increased by 82% compared with the previous seven days, from 3,514 to 6,382.
On Friday he urged the public to cut social contacts to “an absolute minimum”.
“Every time you physically interact with another person, you are providing an opportunity for the virus to spread,” he said.