The Department of Health has published further minutes of meetings of the National Public Health Emergency Team, known as NPHET, which had been a source of some political controversy over the past week.

Chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, NPHET is a near 40-member expert committee which meets twice a week to advise Government on Covid-19, including making recommendations on restrictions.

Labour leader Alan Kelly had called for greater openness and transparency on NPHET in the Dáil last week, in part because the agenda and meeting notes had not been published since the end of March.

Information on a further four meetings was posted last night.

In the most recent meeting on 14 April, concern is expressed over contact tracing in which it is stated: "The numbers of contacts traced appears to be low with respect to capacity in terms of those trained."

The minutes record that this "may be a factor of the reduction in people's close contacts due to the current social distancing measures".

However, the notes go on to state: "The importance of a robust process and use of available capacity for sampling, testing and contact tracing (including the contact tracing of suspected cases) for containing and slowing the spread of Covid-19 was strongly re-emphasised."

Later in the same notes, it is stated that "all agreed that testing and contact tracing is critical to tracking the viral spread, understanding epidemiology, informing case management, and reducing transmission".

In his Dáil comments, Deputy Kelly had said that while his party totally supported NPHET's work; "We have to see transparency around decision making. We need to see transparency around how people are appointed; how minutes are taken or indeed not taken; [and] their role in relation to their interactions with the HSE."

He added: "In particular, we need to see how the advice of NPHET is constituted and passed-on to the democratic decision making by the government."