The three counties have recorded 226 Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting to decide if Kildare, Offaly and Laois should have immediate lockdowns imposed, due to rising Covid-19 cases.

Ministers are on standby to meet this afternoon, if the public health experts recommend stringent measures for people in the three counties.

NPHET began meeting just after 11 O’clock, with the developing situation in the midlands dominating their discussions.

The counties have had 226 Covid-19 cases in the past two weeks, mainly linked with meat processing plants and direct provision centres.

Already we know there will be at least 60 further cases from these counties confirmed this evening.

With the weekend looming, public health doctors are growing increasingly worried about asymptomatic cases spreading the virus and driving up community transmission.

Should lockdowns be recommended, ministers are waiting by to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting.