The Department of Health has been notified of three additional deaths of people with Covid-19 and a further 569 new cases.

The number of people in ICU is 41, down three from yesterday.

There has now been a total of 4,906 Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 249,437.

Among the cases today are 268 men and 290 women. 78% are under 45 years of age and the median age is 26-years-old.

As of 8am there were 123 Covid-19 patients in hospital. There were five additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The Department of Health said that as of last Thursday 1,527,844 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered here.

That is made up of 1,097,742 first doses and 430,102 second doses.

In Northern Ireland, there were no new Covid-19 deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

The NI Department of Health said that 90 new Covid-19 cases had been confirmed.

'Best ever week' for vaccinations expected

The head of the Health Service Executive Paul Reid has said the introduction of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine will contribute to what is expected to be the "best week ever" in terms of the roll-out of vaccinations.

The HSE expects between 220,000 to 240,000 vaccinations will be administered next week.

Across the country 36 vaccinations centres have been opened and Mr Reid said there are enough vaccinators to administer the doses.

For the first time, 26,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be administered, prioritising vulnerable people, including those who are homeless and those with addiction issues.

The online portal for people aged 55-59 is set to open for vaccine registrations on Tuesday and will continue down through the ages, according to the HSE.

The HSE said the average lead-in time is about two weeks from when a patient registers to being called for a vaccination.

Mr Reid said 1.5 million vaccines have been administered so far. In April around 750,000 vaccines were completed, with the programme set to gather "great momentum" in the week ahead.

The HSE said plans are being finalised over the weekend on the 27th version of the national vaccination programme.

Mr Reid said he will present the revised plan to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Monday and the aim is for the plan to be rolled out from early next week.

In a tweet, Mr Reid said there are three key drivers of the plan, which are that the roll-out will continue down the ages where Covid-19 risks are highest, increased vaccinations based on supply, and the further opening of society and economy.

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The Chair of the NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said it is essential Ireland takes steps now to reopen society and the economy and allow some of the activities that are lowest risk and most important to us to resume.

Prof Philip Nolan said NPHET will be watching carefully to see if there is any signal in the daily case counts and hospitilisations that might suggest there is a sustained growth in the epidemic.

He warned that at any early phase of exponential growth is when they would "raise the alarm".

However, he said if people stick with the guidelines based on the new framework the risk of that happening is low to medium. He noted that previously when some restrictions were eased, numbers did go up but then "may settle again".

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon, he said there are lots of uncertainties that remain, with the biggest one being how much more transmissible is the B117 variant, and how it spreads now compared to last summer.

He said the "least important uncertainty", in terms of the timing of what is going to happen over the course of the summer, is vaccine supply.

He said that is one of the reasons why NPHET could not advise Government what to do in late summer because of those levels of uncertainty and not being able to estimate risks with sufficient precision.

He believes the Government did the right thing to be really cautious about what is being allowed for May and June. "We need to make May and June work and leave ourselves in a good position for what we can do in July and August."

Prof Nolan said it is important to have an understanding of what point Ireland would need to be at in the vaccination programme to support the EU-wide reopening of travel.

He said it will be looked at in the coming weeks as preparations need to be made beyond the end of June.

He said he is not rejecting the possibility of travel abroad but added that a lot of work needs to be done in advance.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday that "now is the right time for us to move on" but Ireland had to remain cautious.

The epidemiological situation has "changed since the spring", he said, which was largely due to the "high level of public adherence".

He described the easing of restrictions announced by the Government as "ambitious but cautious".

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has signed a Ministerial Order extending a zero rate of VAT on domestic supply of Personal Protective Equipment.

It follows confirmation from the EU Commission that the temporary waiver of customs duties and VAT on imports of medical devices and PPE used in the fight against Covid-19 has been extended until the end of this year.

The order, signed last night, extends the zero rate of VAT for the domestic supply of PPE, thermometers, hand sanitiser, oxygen, medical ventilators and specialist respiratory equipment including respirators.

The relief was due to expire at midnight last night.

Additional reporting Dimitri O'Donnell