The Minister for Health has said Ireland's approach to tackling Covid-19 is the "right strategy" that is "going to save lives".

Simon Harris said it is important for the Irish people, who are hurting and who are making sacrifices, to know this.

Minister Harris cited modelling done by Professor Philip Nolan, which projected that this coming Sunday alone, there would have been 120,000 new cases of the virus, if no restrictive measures had been introduced.

If just partial mitigation had been done, by the end of May, the modelling suggested we would see around 70,000 new cases on one day.

Mr Harris said that either of those scenarios would have been "utterly devastating for our country" and would have resulted in "very significant" numbers getting ill and losing their lives.

He said that sadly, some people have lost their lives, and that more will, but that Ireland's strategy so far is "clearly saving lives".

The modelling takes the "R" number, or the reproductive rate of the virus, into account. This means the number of people a person with the virus then goes on to infect.

Mr Harris said the lower we can get this number, the more we can suppress the virus and save lives.

He said it is a harsh and painful reality that the coronavirus does impact on older people more severely.

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Mr Harris said that while a person as young as 32 with the virus died in Ireland, nine out of ten deaths that have occurred are in people aged over 65.

Mr Harris said that we will "leave no section of society behind in our national response".

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.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person and within two metres of them, to be considered at-risk, or a close contact.

Social distancing going to remain a 'big part of life'

Mr Harris said the more progress that is made over the next three weeks, the more likely it is that the Government can begin to tweak some of the restrictions that are currently in place.

However, he said this does not mean going back to life before Covid-19, because "it is still going to be here".

"There isn't going to be a magic point at the start of May, where life as we knew it can resume".

He said that social distancing is going to remain a "very big part of life", until an effective treatment or vaccine can be found.

Ireland is to become the first country in Europe to carry out a "health technology assessment".

The Health Information Quality Authority is to publish this assessment this week, into the different tests and methodologies available around Covid-19.

This would include looking at anti-body testing, which aims to find out if people may have been infected without knowing and if they are now immune.

Mr Harris said he does not expect this report to be a "magic wand solution" but that it would be very "instructive" and give us a view on a range of issues being considered when it comes to testing.

31 more deaths from coronavirus were announced this evening. The death toll now stands at 365 people.

The Department also confirmed that 992 new cases of coronavirus were identified - some of which were older tests which were sent to a laboratory in Germany.

With the German figures included, there is a total of 10,647 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.