The Government is facing opposition from the public to another round of Covid-19 restrictions, as the threat of a second nationwide lockdown looms, a poll has revealed.
The number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 rose by eight in the space of 24 hours, it emerged last night.
So far, the recent rise in infections has not has a knock-on effect on hospitals, but there are fears it is just a matter of time before wards will again see a surge in patients needing medical care for the virus.
The number of new cases of Covid-19 remained high yesterday with a further 127 infections reported. There were no further deaths.
A poll commissioned by Department of Health reveals an increasing level of frustration among the public at the prospect of more restrictions.
The proportion of people saying they do not want any more curbs on their freedoms rose to 38pc from 27pc in the space of a week.
There has also been a drop in those who favour additional restrictions.
The poll also revealed a growing complacency among the public about the future impact of the pandemic.
Asked about the future, some 40pc said they believed the worst is over - down from 43pc .
There is growing concern at the number of outbreaks of the virus, which are currently affecting 252 private households.
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: "While the number of people in critical care remains stable, we have seen an additional eight people hospitalised in the last 24 hours.
"If cases continue to rise, we will see an inevitable increase in the number of people hospitalised. We all have a role to play in preventing that from happening.
"This weekend, it is vital that people play their part by decreasing social contacts. Do not drop your guard just because you are meeting people close to you.
"Remember that just because somebody looks and feels well, that does not mean they are covid-free."
Figures from the Central Statistics Office confirmed people are mixing more, which has implications for passing on the virus.
The average number of contacts a person confirmed with the virus has increased from less than three in May to more than six in the week ending August 14.
The median age of new cases was 30-years-old for that week - the youngest since cases were recorded.
There is some relief, however, that the number of people who have died from the virus is below 10 for each of the last eight weeks.
In terms of underlying conditions, chronic heart disease was present in 45pc of deaths so far.
Meanwhile, a study led by Queens University Belfast has highlighted the need to look out for gastrointestinal symptoms in children as potential sign of Covid-19.
Researcher Dr Tom Waterfield said: "We learned half of children participating in this study are asymptomatic with SARS-CoV-2 infection, and those with symptoms do not typically have a cough or changes to their smell and taste, with gastrointestinal (GI) upset a far more common symptom."
Half of the children studied with Covid-19 reported no symptoms.
Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting were more common than a cough or changes in sense of smell or taste, which may have implications for the testing criteria used for children.
The findings also showed young children under 10 were just as likely to have evidence of prior infection as older children, and that asymptomatic children were just as likely to develop antibodies as symptomatic children.
Professor Ian Young, Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of HSC Research and Development said:
"Research studies are vital at this time, and thanks to efforts such as the COVID Warriors study, we now know more about COVID-19 in terms of the exposure of children in the UK to the SARS-CoV-2 virus since the pandemic began."