There were a further 1,758 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the State on Sunday, while 248 people were in hospital with the virus, and 48 in intensive care.
Some 30,000 vaccines have been given to children aged between 12-15 since Friday, the chief executive of the Health Service Executive Paul Reid has said.
The portal for registering this group opened last week, with about 90,000 – or roughly a third of the eligible population – having registered so far.
“There’s 30,000 total vaccines administered to 12 to 15year-olds since we commenced on Friday,” Mr Reid said.
He said that vaccinations were at a level he was satisfied with, and about 8,000-10,000 people have registered on the portal every day.
Some parents may not have yet registered their children as they are on holidays, he suggested. A deal struck for extra vaccines with Romania will bolster supplies for the children now coming forward to be vaccinated.
“The good news is we have a very good supply line to complete this group asap because we have the supply line from the Romanian supply lines coming through in the next couple of weeks,” he said. Longer opening hours will be arranged at vaccination centres in order to facilitate families, he said.
Mr Reid also confirmed that non-symptomatic vaccinated close contacts of a confirmed Covid case in schools will not have to isolate, in line with the overriding public health advice.
He said there is “concern” around mounting numbers of people with Covid in hospital, which presents a particular challenge due to isolation and infection control requirements, with many more aspects of non-Covid care continuing than in previous waves.
“The numbers of people in hospital with Covid definitely are a smaller proportion of the 11,000 people we would be treating in hospital at the moment. However, they do have disproportionate [impacts on the service],” he said.
“As we head into winter, yes we will be concerned, what may emerge from flu but also as we want to get back to non-Covid care and addressing many of the issues that we have to address.”
Regarding the ongoing debate over access to maternity hospitals for partners, Mr Reid said the health service is “very anxious to all get to a much better place”.
“We should always listen to the medics when talking about risks that they are managing through. Some people might disagree with them, but we can’t dismiss what they are saying. They are managing some real risks in trying to protect pregnant women and their babies,” he said.
“We do want to find a shared pathway out of this and I have asked the chief clinical officer and director of the national women and infants programme to meet with some of the patient advisory groups and some of the advocates next week so we can have a clear understanding where we’re at now and some of the risks that are there, what might be the trajectory as we move out, hopefully, of the current position in Covid.”
In the North, meanwhile, there have been three more deaths linked to Covid-19 recorded.
Stormont’s Department of Health said on Sunday there were also a further 1,294 cases of the virus identified over the previous 24-hour period.
The overall death toll since the start of the pandemic has risen to 2,248, while 175,597 cases have been detected since the outbreak began.
The latest available figures for hospital patients with Covid-19, released on Friday, showed 359 confirmed cases, of which 44 are being treated in intensive care.
The North’s Minister for Health Robin Swann has condemned as “contemptible” a protest by anti-vaccine demonstrators at a walk-in clinic for new and expectant mothers in Derry over the weekend.
The vaccination clinic was being held on Saturday in the Foyle Arena in the city’s Waterside.
“This latest protest is contemptible,” said Mr Swann.
“I want to express my gratitude and solidarity to the vaccination team working at the Foyle Arena. I am pleased to see pregnant women and new mothers coming forward to get protected through vaccination, in line with expert scientific advice. I would encourage more to do so.”
Mr Swann said there is “sadly no reasoning with these anti-vax crusaders, who remain wedded to their misinformed and distorted agenda”.
“My message to them is simple: you will not divert us from our responsibility to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” he said.
“Vaccination saves lives and reduces levels of serious illness.
“To people who have not yet got their jab, I say please make an informed choice, based on information from trusted sources. Please don’t miss out on the protection that being vaccinated brings.”
Police said they are looking to identify the anti-vaccination protesters. Police Service of Northern Ireland constable Laura Brown said up to four protesters entered the Foyle Arena through the exit doors at about 2.15pm on Saturday.
They were carrying leaflets and a megaphone.
“They were said to have shouted abuse at a number of pregnant women attending the clinic, who were clearly upset by what happened,” she said.
“The protesters had left the arena by the time police arrived at the location – and although officers carried out patrols in the area, they were unable to locate them.”
Ms Brown added: “We are keen to identify the individuals involved in this protest and would ask anyone who was at the Foyle Arena and saw what happened – or has any information about the incident – to get in touch with police.”