The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 has fallen to its lowest level in four weeks.
As of 8am, there were 487 patients being treated for the virus, down 41 on the same time yesterday.
It compares to a figure of 536 on this day last week.
There are 114 people in ICU with Covid-19 this morning, up four from the same time yesterday.
Number of people in hospital falls below 500 for first time since October. Plan is working – 3rd doses, masks, test & isolate, physical distancing. Thank you for what you are doing. Please don’t lose heart. Let’s all have a safe Christmas #protectourprogress pic.twitter.com/f6yypv4kO6
— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) December 4, 2021
Immunologist and TCD Professor of Biochemistry Luke O’Neill said the new restrictions announced by the Government yesterday make sense and are being driven by the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor, Prof O’Neill said it is hoped the restrictions will be enough to overcome the threat posed in the coming weeks and that “overall we have to be behind them”.
He said new research shows that the Omicron variant “looks like it has picked up a piece of the common cold” which suggests it causes a mild illness.
However, it could also become the most dominant variant as it is being shown to be 2.5 times more likely to infect someone who was previously infected by the Delta variant.
At a glance: New restrictions ahead of Christmas Latest coronavirus stories
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach has said he shares people’s frustrations and disappointment with the new restrictions, which are aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.
Micheál Martin announced new measures at Government Buildings
Micheál Martin said this is not another lockdown, but rather a readjustment of measures to respond to the current threat.
Following warnings from the National Public Health Emergency Team that the new Omicron variant risks causing another surge, ministers felt they had little choice, and the Government accepted the recommendations, which will be in place from next Tuesday until 9 January.
Under the measures announced by the Taoiseach, nightclubs will close and there will be tighter measures adopted in bars, restaurants and hotels.
Tables will be limited to six individuals and no multiple bookings will be allowed, although closing time remains at midnight.
There is to be a maximum of 50% capacity at indoor entertainment and sporting events. This will not apply to religious, educational events or normal workplace business activity or to outdoor events.
The Digital Covid Certificate will be required for gyms, leisure centres, as well as hotel bars and restaurants.
There will be no exemption for hotel guests, but wedding guests will not be required to show the pass.
Mr Martin said the current surge had stabilised but, just as the country was getting a handle on it, news of the Omicron variant emerged.
Anyone arriving into the State after midnight tonight will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test result for Covid-19. Self-administered antigen tests will not be accepted; they must have been carried out by a health professional or skilled testing personnel.
The requirement was delayed to enable passengers and carriers prepare for the measure.
Passengers who arrive without a negative test result will have to home quarantine and take a PCR test within 36 hours of arrival.