The number of vacant general beds in acute public hospitals is reducing, according to new figures.

There are now 1,380 beds available, the HSE operational report shows. 

There were over 2,200-2,500 public vacant beds earlier on in the emergency. 

Acute hospitals are mostly not doing any planned elective work, or outpatient clinics, except for essential care.

745 patients are in hospital with confirmed Covid-19 and a further 309 are in hospital as suspected cases. 

The hospitals with the largest number of confirmed cases are in Dublin, where the Mater has 106 patients, St James's Hospital has 87 and Beaumont has 84. 

Elsewhere, University Hospital Limerick has 37 patients, Mayo has 33 and there are 24 patients at Cavan General Hospital with Covid-19. 

There are still 151 critical care beds available for all patients. 

Last night, the number of new daily confirmed cases of the virus reported was put at 229. 

It is the lowest daily number announced since the start of April. 

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Yesterday, the Department of Health said 59 more people had died after being diagnosed with Covid-19, of which 45 were laboratory confirmed, bringing the total number of people who have died following a coronavirus diagnosis in Ireland to 1,159.

Following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he would not currently be in a position to recommend an easing of restrictions when they lapse on Tuesday 5 May.

He said this would be considered further ahead of another meeting of the NPHET on Friday.

According to the HSE's Health Protection Surveillance Centre, you can be infected by breathing in the virus if you are within 1 metre of a person who has Covid-19, or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. Current information suggests that Covid-19 spreads easily from person to person.

  • To protect yourself from COVID-18, you should:
  • keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
  • avoid communal sleeping areas
  • avoid any crowded places
  • not shake hands or make close contact with other people, if possible

According to the Department of Health, there is very little risk if you are just passing someone. But try to keep a distance of 2 metres as much as possible.

The manager of the HSE self-isolation and step-down facility at the Citywest Hotel said here there has been an increase in referrals to it over the last ten days and they are currently assisting 114 people. 

Mary Walshe said the 750-bed facility has been open since 1 April and has three different streams of clients - those who are Covid-positive, those who are awaiting test results and close contacts of infected people who need to self-isolate. 

She said that in those four weeks it has seen over 200 people admitted and discharged. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O’Rourke, Ms Walsh said the increase in referrals from GPs, hospitals and agencies - including Tusla -  is most likely linked to increased testing. 

Ms Walshe said that those referrals are assessed and if the person can be appropriately managed they are assigned a hotel room where meals are delivered and clients have access to GPs and nursing staff 24/7 . 

Ms Walshe said that staff help people by observing and monitoring them "behind closed doors" and all those who are admitted are taught how to take their own temperature when they arrive. 

Meanwhile, a Professor of Molecular virology at Queen's University in Belfast said an all island approach to controlling Covid 19 is the best way to limit community transmission, once restrictions ease. 

Professor Ultan Power said if both jurisdictions take the same approach to people entering the island, it will control the re-entry of the infection, particularly if people are flying in from known Covid 19 hotspots. 

He said he thinks numbers are now going in the right direction in Northern Ireland and his colleagues in hospitals say demand on services is not as busy as they had anticipated at this time. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Prof Power said there is still a body of work that needs to be done in relation to deaths and infections in nursing homes and long term care facilities. 

He added that efforts to expand the testing significantly are under way.