The Department of Health has announced that a further 77 people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 have died, bringing the overall death toll in Ireland to 687.

401 more cases of the coronavirus have also been confirmed in the Republic, bringing the overall number of  cases here to 15,652.

Of the additional deaths announced today, 67 were in the east of the country, four were in the west, four were in the north-west and two were in the south of the country.

In a daily briefing at the Department of Health, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that of the latest deaths there were 31 men, 42 females and in four of the cases the gender has not been notified.

The median age of today's reported deaths is 84 years old. 

The briefing also heard that 54 of the cases had underlying health conditions. 

In relation to the 687 people who died in the Republic due to the coronavirus, 51% were hospitalised and 7% were admitted to ICU. 

55% of deaths were men, 45% were women. 

The Head of Social Care at the Department of Health, Dr Kathleen MacLellan, says there are now 1,761 cases of Covid-19 in long term residential settings and 1,204 cases in nursing homes. 

She said of the deaths recorded 406 have been in long term settings, 337 of these in nursing homes.

She said of the total deaths in residential settings, 329 have been lab confirmed while 77 were catagorised as probable or suspected cases.

Of the nursing homes deaths, 276 were lab confirmed while 61 were suspected.

Dr MacLellan said a mortality census on deaths in these settings began over the weekend and the department hopes to have further information from this later in the week which help direct public health and clinical actions. 

In Northern Ireland, 13 more people have died in hospital from Covid-19.

In total, there have been 207 recorded hospital deaths in relation to the coronavirus.

Northern Ireland's projected death rate from the coronavirus in the first 20 weeks of the pandemic has been revised to 1,500, down from the 15,000 fatalities projection made at the beginning of March.

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.


Too early to see any clear trends as restrictions to remain

Today the largest number of deaths have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in a single day during the coronavirus emergency.

Of the 77 Covid-19 related deaths, 54 people had an underlying illness. These are very sad figures - each patient will likely have a family, loved ones and friends.

It's important to be aware that these deaths may have occurred over recent days and are not reported in real time. They did not occur in a day. But that does not diminish the great sadness associated with such loss. The median age of deaths is 84 years, underlying how the virus is so dangerous for older people.

The number of new cases reported today was 401, a reduction in recent days.

One of the reasons for this is because there are no test result figures to be included from the German laboratory, as the backlog has been cleared. Taking that into account, and given the German tests were older tests, there is some positive news in the reducing levels of cases.

But it is too early to be definitive about any clear trend.

It may be hard to believe but it is still quite early in the progress of the virus here. There will be a peak of some kind - by definition there has to be a highest figure - but it does not look likely to be anywhere near some earlier projections.

Also, currently the public hospital system is able to manage the existing cases - with over 2,000 vacant beds and 142 critical care beds free. But this is a dynamic situation, always changing. Private hospital capacity has hardly been needed at all.

The NPHET will meet tomorrow, to review all of the trends. It will also consider the existing restrictions, as well as possible childcare supports for health staff, a long delayed promised initiative by Government.

As of now, there is no early sign that existing Covid-19 restrictions will be lifted soon. Swab sampling, processing and testing capacity, contact tracing and fast results turnaround will be essential elements before any easing of measures will be contemplated.

While some limited easing may occur of certain measures, the message from health officials is that serious measures will still need to be in place for society, to keep the re-infection rate below 1.


Earlier today, the Taoiseach said he does not want to raise hopes or expectations by speculating as to when schools might reopen.

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Leo Varadkar said the Government was keen to reopen schools in the early phases of easing restrictions, but as the plan to do this had not been completed, he did not want to speculate.

Elsewhere, a researcher in theoretical neurobiology has said that "without a new approach" we may see many more cycles of Covid-19

Dr Rosalyn Moran of King's College London said the current restrictions have given us breathing room to bring the levels of infection to a manageable level and if we keep our reproduction cases below one, this cycle should end in mid June, with hundreds of manageable cases by the end of May.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Dr Moran said based on her models, there could be an estimated 1,200 deaths in Ireland by the end of this cycle.


Read more:

Pubs closed until vaccine found a 'nightmare scenario'
Galway school decides against Junior Cert participation
Irishman's pandemic proposal over Zoom


Over one million now dependent on state income support

Over one million people are now either fully or partially dependent on the state for income support, according to the latest figures from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. 

584,000 people are now receiving the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment introduced just over a month ago. 

The latest figures indicate that 50,000 of those are receiving the €350 payment for the first time this week. 

Payments will be in their bank accounts or at their local post office tomorrow. 

Those figures come on top of the 212,000 on the Live Register receiving standard Jobseekers' Benefit of €203 per week. 

In total, 796,000 people are totally reliant on the State for their income.

The figure at the end of February was 182,000 - meaning unemployment has more than quadrupled in seven weeks. 

Separately, 46,000 employers have now registered with the Revenue Commissioners for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), which is subsidising the pay of 281,200 employees.  

When those on the Covid-19 Pandemic Payment, those on Jobseekers and those in the TWSS are added up, 1,077,200 people are now completely or partly dependent on the State for income support.