People living with cold, flu and virus symptoms are being urged not to visit hospitals in Ireland, as one of the worst overcrowding crises the state has ever known is currently underway.
This follows the news that 612 people are currently on trolleys instead of beds across the country, as the number of flu sufferers has doubled over the past seven days.
According to the Independent, both the winter vomiting bug and a severe respiratory virus have made matters worse for emergency services.
A spokesperson for Tallaght Hospital is reported by the Irish Independent to have said:
The hospital's full capacity protocol is in place, and the public is asked to attend their GP in the first instance, where appropriate.
A spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital also added:
Like many other hospitals across the country, Beaumont is requesting that patients with cold and flu symptoms who may be considering coming to the ED to first contact their GP."
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris admits that the country's hospitals are facing a "challenging time'', while the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) claimed the situation was "totally predictable".