The Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has recommended that HIQA do a risk assessment to see which nursing homes need extra support to deal with Covid-19.

It has also recommended more personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff working in nursing homes.

When asked on RTÉ's Nine News about reports that healthcare staff would be asked to not share accommodation, Mr Harris said the priority of the Government was to support healthcare workers who were going to work when other people were being asked to stay at home, adding that they were "our heroes".

He said Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan and the NPHET would be engaging with the HSE and private hospitals and nursing homes on how best to do that.

Asked about childcare for healthcare workers, Mr Harris said work was being done on that, but it had to be done right.

He said we do not want to end up accidentally reopening creches and undoing some of the good public health work that has been done in recent weeks.

However, he said he hopes there will be some good news in this area soon.

It emerged earlier this evening that new recommendations from the NPHET will see some health staff being advised to cease sharing accommodation in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.

The State will look to provide alternative accommodation for nurses and other staff in such circumstances.

Staff working in homes and hospitals may also be required to have their temperature taken.

The Health Information & Quality Authority and the Mental Health Commission are to be tasked with risk-rating facilities to assist with health services.

This will be aimed at ensuring certain facilities have adequate personal protective equipment and staff, including replacement staff and helping make these available if needed.

The recommendations will cover long-term stay facilities including nursing homes and disability facilities.

They will also deal with further measures for hospitals.

No extra travel measures were recommended by the NPHET today but it will discuss it again, Dr Holohan said.

Earlier, the President of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland said intensive care units were under significant pressure due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

Today, there were 107 patients on ventilators and 26 patients with suspected coronavirus are in ICU beds in Dublin alone.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Dr Catherine Motherway said they were coping with the numbers, but they were concerned about the potential surge of critical cases.

The overall number of Covid-19 cases admitted to intensive care units in Ireland has increased to 113, according to new figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

It was reported that over 37% of those in ICU are over 65 years of age.

Dr Motherway said she was encouraged that there had been fall off in contact cases and said she hopes that the restrictions were working and would continue to work.

She said doctors cannot control the surge, but it was the actions of the population as a whole that would control that peak.

Dr Motherway urged people to continue to practice social restrictions and proper hygiene.

Across the country there are 25,000 older people being cared for in nursing homes.

According to the HPSC, a cluster is three or more cases in an institution within a 72-hour period.

New data from the centre shows that nursing home clusters account for 20% of all clusters of the infection.

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The data is based on 2,475 confirmed cases of Covid-19 reported up until midnight on Sunday, 28 March.

It shows there are now 111 clusters of infection, involving 428 people. 

This includes 21 clusters in hospitals, 24 in private houses, 16 related to travel, one linked to a public house and one linked to a hotel.

The number of Covid-19 cases admitted to intensive care units in Ireland has increased to 103, according to new figures from the HSPC. Over 37% of those in ICU are over 65 years of age.

There have now been 71 Covid-19 related deaths in the country, with 3,235 confirmed cases of the virus.

However, the actual number of cases is likely to be higher as new rules introduced last week mean that testing is focused on priority groups.

Those seeking a test must display two major symptoms and fall into a priority group in order to be tested.

These are close contacts of a confirmed case, healthcare staff and vulnerable groups

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.

Additional reporting Fergal Bowers