The chief medical officers (CMOs) of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have expressed serious concern about the high levels of COVID-19 in both jurisdictions and have appealed to everyone to stay at home.
Dr Tony Holohan and his Northern Ireland counterpart, Dr Michael McBride, said that they are "gravely concerned about the unsustainably high level of COVID-19 infection we are experiencing on the island of Ireland".
"This is having a significant impact on the health of our population and the safe functioning of our healthcare systems," they commented.
They said that due to the surge of infections over the last few weeks, both south and north of the border, there has been an increase in mortality figures.
"Our health systems have been placed under immense pressure. We are likely to see ongoing increases in hospitalisations, ICU admissions and mortality in the weeks ahead," they warned.
Both CMOs are appealing to people to stay at home except for essential reasons.
"Many of the patients admitted to hospital in January have been under the age of 65 years. COVID-19 can affect us all, regardless of age or underlying condition. It highlights the need for us all to protect one another by staying at home.
"Not only will you keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but also help to save lives and avoid more preventable COVID-19 admissions to our currently struggling healthcare systems," the CMOs said.
They insisted that they "will continue to work together to protect public health across the island, as we have done throughout this pandemic".
"But we need everyone to play their part by staying at home and protecting themselves and their communities," they added.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.