The HSE plan to take emergency control of up to 30 percent of private hospital capacity could come into effect within days.

Under the terms of the contract, seen by the Business Post, it could be triggered if key indicators, such as an ICU number of more than 130, are met.

1,421 people with Covid-19 are in hospital this morning - up 136 since yesterday - while 120 are in intensive care.

In a worst case scenario, the HSE has warned admissions could reach 2,500 in hospital and 400 in ICUs by the middle of this month.

Margaret Harris from the World Health Organisation says Ireland's paying the price for allowing Christmas gatherings.

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