The Department of Health has been notified of a further 28 deaths of people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

There have now been 794 laboratory confirmed virus related deaths in Ireland.

Three deaths that had previously been reported are no longer classified as related to Covid-19.

The number of additional cases of the virus diagnosed is 936, bringing the total number of cases here to 17,607.

The National Public Health Emergency Team has said the rate at which Covid-19 is being spread has reduced significantly.

The reproduction number is now between 0.5 and 0.8, which means anyone with the virus would pass it on to no more than one other person.

But the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned it would take very little to undo the good work.

Dr Holohan said that if the decision was to be made today, he would not be advising the Government to ease any restrictions imposed around Covid-19.

He said they did not want people to anticipate a relaxation of measures on 5 May.

He said it would take very little for the good work that had been done to be lost and added that if the reproduction rate climbed up to 1.6 or beyond 2 after the lifting of restrictions, strict measures would have to be re-imposed.

Dr Holohan said there had been some slippage in terms of traffic volumes and people moving around and he said that had been picked up.

He said the Irish National Seismic Network recorded an uptake in activity and a further movement of people and vehicles.


He said this fitted with their anecdotal sense that people were becoming a bit more complacent.

Dr Holohan said there would need to be a significant reduction in cases in residential care [before relaxing restrictions]. He said the chain of transmission needed to be broken or it could be the case that residential care centres could re-infect the wider community.

He said the Department of Health did not believe they had an effective enough test to measure antibodies yet, but said it was hoped they would have one in coming weeks and months.

The Minister for Health has said the modelling on Covid-19 suggests that Ireland has the virus largely suppressed in the community.

But speaking on RTÉ's Prime Time, Simon Harris said: "These next 12 days between now and 5 May matter because the more we can suppress the virus, the more headroom we give ourselves in terms of options."

He said the best way to stop a second wave involves testing a wide range of people with a high range of suspicion.

There is now a "new normal" with physical and social distancing becoming a regular part of our lives, he added.

As of Tuesday 21 April, 2,424 people had been hospitalised and 331 of those patients were admitted to ICU.

Healthcare workers accounted for 4,545 of confirmed cases.

The median age of all cases up to Tuesday was 48.

In relation to the number of cases, the Chief Medical Officer told the daily briefing that there is an ambitious programme of testing in residential care home settings homes.

He said there are 319 clusters of the virus in residential care facilities, 191 of which are in nursing homes.

The number of cases associated with community residential care settings is 2,960, with nursing homes accounting for 2,231.

Of those cases in community residential settings, 288 had been admitted to hospital at some point, and 195 of those admissions were from nursing homes.

Dr Holohan said 433 laboratory confirmed deaths were associated to residential care settings, with 103 occurring in a hospital setting.

He said 361 laboratory confirmed deaths were related to nursing homes and that 87 of those had occurred in hospital.

The chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, which is part of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), Professor Philip Nolan, said there would be an increase in the total number of cases detected because of the increased testing in residential care settings.

He said there would be a decline in the number of cases detected in public settings.

Professor Nolan said the number of people in intensive care peaked at 160 and has been declining since.

He said we peaked at about 90 hospital admissions per day two weeks ago and said hospital admissions have been declining since then.

He said the growth of Covid-19 had been stabilised or suppressed.

Professor Nolan said the number of deaths has been relatively stable since the end of the first week in April, and that this was the final indication that the virus appeared to be under control.

He said it had been growing at 33%, but since early April the growth rate of new cases was effectively zero, based on five day averages.

Professor Nolan said the trend in Ireland was very stable and that there had been no growth for weeks. He said two thirds of people diagnosed with Covid-19 have recovered.

He said that before the lifting of measures, the number of cases in critical care units and community homes would need to be driven down to an acceptable level.

Professor Nolan said the reproduction rate was now between .5 and .8, which he said was significantly below 1.

The reproduction rate before any social distancing was between 2 and 4, and he said since the measures were introduced their estimate is a rate of .54.

He said we were capable of keeping the rate of the virus below 1.

Asked about the Nursing Home Ireland survey and the need for more staff, Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry said it was a huge concern and that the sector is under pressure.

He said if the testing in nursing homes identifies more staff who need to take time off work, staff form acute hospitals would be redeployed.

Dr Henry said this was already happening with staff from the Central Remedial Clinic going to a care home in north Dublin.

He also said staff from University Hospital Limerick were also redeployed into the community.

Dr Henry said 40,000 hours of help a week would be delivered to nursing homes by redeploying homecare workers to residential centres.