Seventeen more people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland and 325 new cases have been diagnosed.

There are 71 Covid-19 related deaths in the country, with 3,235 confirmed cases of the virus.

The additional deaths were announced at a briefing by Department of Health officials this evening.

Of those who have died, 52 were male and 19 were female.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that 83% of those who died were aged over 70, and that two thirds of them were in the east of the country.

Of the 71 people to die, Dr Holohan said that 54 of them had underlying health conditions and that 59 died in a hospital setting.

The latest available data relates to 2,677 cases reported up until midnight on Sunday.

Of these, there were 118 clusters of infection involving 494 cases. The median age of those with the virus was 47.

Up until Sunday midnight, Dr Holohan said there had been 113 admissions to intensive care units.

A quarter of all those with the virus are healthcare workers, accounting for 647 cases.

Dr Holohan said that a quarter of these workers with the virus picked it up via "healthcare related transmission", while 61% were acquired in the community.

The average number of contacts of confirmed cases of the virus is now around three. Dr Holohan said this was a "significant continuing improvement" as it had previously been as high as 15.

Dr Holohan said that following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team today, recommendations will be made to contact tracing teams narrowing the window of contact tracing.

He said that the important period to identify is the 48-hour period prior to the onset of symptoms, as this will cover asymptomatic transmission.

In Northern Ireland, there have been six further deaths due to the coronavirus. It brings the total number of deaths there to 28. 

A further 53 cases of Covid-19 were also confirmed in the North, bringing the total number of infections to 586.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

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Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people who have lost their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic were due to receive their first benefit payment today.

It is just two weeks since the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment was introduced.

Almost 400,000 people have applied for the payment.

Around 300,000 people have qualified for the emergency payment and the majority of these received the payment in their bank account today.

Covid-19 patients to be asked to take part in clinical trials

Critically ill patients with Covid-19 in Ireland will be asked to take part in a clinical trial on how to treat the disease.

The trial will test the effects of different interventions for Covid-19 patients, who are being treated in intensive care units.

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These interventions include antiviral drugs and immunomodulatory drugs. 

St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin and University Hospital Galway will begin the trialing these interventions next week, which is part of a global research effort to tackle the pandemic. 

Other hospitals, including Beaumont Hospital, Cork University Hospital, University Hospital Limerick and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast are also expected to take part in the trial at a later date. 

Earlier today, the President of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland said intensive care units are under significant pressure due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

Today, there are 107 patients on ventilators and 26 patients with suspected coronavirus are in ICU beds in Dublin alone.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Dr Catherine Motherway said they were coping with the numbers, but they were concerned about the potential surge of critical cases.