The number of people that a person with Covid-19 is infecting in Ireland is reducing. 

The "RE" number, or the reproductive rate of the virus, refers to how many other people a confirmed case goes on to infect, and it is closely monitored by health officials.

On 16 March, a person infected with Covid-19 here would "likely" infect another 4.3 people.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that by the end of March, this dropped to 2.5 people.

At a news conference this afternoon, Mr Harris said that this is "real progress", but said we need to get this number below one. 

He said if we can reduce this figure to below one, it means the "virus doesn't sustain itself in the community".

Mr Harris said that the next seven days will be "absolutely critical".

The number of "close contacts" recorded for people with the virus has now reduced to three, down from around 20 a few weeks ago. 

Mr Harris said that this is because we are now "making it harder for the disease to spread". 

However he said, even though the rate of growth is slowing, it is still too high.

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The majority of patients admitted to intensive care units to be treated for Covid-19 are aged under 65.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that of 148 patients admitted to ICU, just 59 of them were over 65, accounting for almost 40%, while the remaining 60% were under 65. 

ICU admissions by age group:

Over 65: 59 (39.9%)
55-64: 36 (24.3%) 
45-54: 35 (23.6%)
35-44: 9 (6.1%)
25-34: 7 (4.7%) 
15-24: 1 (0.7%)
5-14:   1 (0.7%)

The figures are based on 3,655 confirmed cases of the virus in Ireland up until midnight on Wednesday 1 of April. 

At this point, 113 deaths linked to the virus had been recorded. 

More than 90% of them were aged over 65. 

The number of clusters or outbreaks of Covid-19 has now reached 171. 

This includes 40 clusters of infection in our nursing homes, 30 in hospitals, 13 in residential institutions and 7 in community hospitals or long stay units. 

The data shows that 948 healthcare workers have contracted the virus, and that 2/3 of them have no history of foreign travel in the 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms. 

Dublin remains the county with the highest number of cases, accounting for 2,077 of the 3,655, or 56%. 

The median age of all of those who contracted the virus so far is 48. 

On Thursday, the Chief Medical Officer cited these 148 ICU admissions, saying that 14 of these patients had died, 25 had been discharged and the remaining 109 were still being treated in ICU. 

At yesterday evening's briefing at the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan gave an updated figure for ICU admissions. 

He said that there have now been 156 patients admitted to intensive care. 

Of these, 15 people died, 31 have been discharged and 110 remain in ICU.

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.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.