The Department of Health has been notified of a further 37 deaths of people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

The number of additional cases of the virus diagnosed is 577, bringing the total number of cases here to 18,184.

The total death toll here is now 1,014, including 185 "probable" deaths, after two deaths that had previously been reported are no longer classified as related to Covid-19.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre says a probable death is a death where a lab test has not been done but where a doctor believes a death is associated with current Covid-19.

The figure of 1,014 deaths reflects this. The total number of deaths going forward will include confirmed and probable cases, in accordance with advice from the European Centre for Disease Control.

Of the 829 lab confirmed Covid-19 tests (excluding the 185 probable deaths), 715 had underlying conditions. They included 441 males and 388 females.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said it had been agreed to broaden the criteria for testing for the virus to any one of the symptoms of fever, recent onset of cough or shortness of breath, from early next week.

People with a symptom will be able to request a test from their GP but priority will be given to vulnerable groups and health workers.

Dr Holohan said they will monitor the impact this change will have on the demand for testing. 

Asked if there is a risk of Ireland's testing system being swamped with the new case definition, Dr Tony Holohan said "we think we can do it within the availability capacity".

He refused to speculate as to how many extra tests will now come through the GP referral system, which is currently averaging around 1,500 test requests per day.

On easing restrictions to allow family members to visit loved ones in nursing homes, Dr Holohan said they think the restrictions are still necessary as they need to limit movement in and out of nursing homes to reduce risks. 

He said the measures will not be in place any longer than necessary.

Dr Holohan said he did not want to speculate on what measures might be eased first. He said if they were making the assessment today the restrictions would remain in place as they are.

Asked about US President Donald Trump suggesting an injection of disinfectant may be a possible coronavirus remedy, the CMO said this was not something to be recommended. It was "unsafe and dangerous. He is not a doctor".

Dr Holohan was also asked when hair salons will be able to reopen. He said you had to consider the risk to staff.

"Any change to our current restrictions will be based on risk of transmission [of Covid-19] … services like hairdressing involve touching and close contact so it's difficult."

Asked if stricter measures could be introduced next week, Dr Holohan said they were not planning that at the moment.

He said the right measures are in place and people need to continue to comply to drive rates down further or the measures will stop working. 

Earlier today Taoiseach Leo Varadkar appealed for people to keep obeying the current Covid-19 restrictions.

At a press briefing to launch the Government's new wellbeing initiative #InThisTogether, he was asked about people becoming more relaxed about the measures currently in place until 5 May.

"People breaking the rules should bear in mind the consequences ... it could be having to extend [lockdown] for two to three weeks."

The Irish Nurses and Midwives' Organisation also reiterated an appeal to people to adhere to movement restrictions, aimed at slowing the spread of Covid-19. 

The organisation says it is depending on the public to continue social distancing and maintain efforts to limit movement outside their homes. 

A Department of Health briefing yesterday heard that 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.

With good weather and temperatures up to 20C forecast over the weekend, gardaí will be carrying out more checkpoints and high visibility patrols across the country to ensure compliance with the guidelines.