Seventeen more people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland bringing the total number of deaths here to 1,631.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 24,803 after 73 new cases were confirmed today.

There have been two further coronavirus-related deaths in Northern Ireland, taking the total toll there to 516 while 26 new cases brings the total number of cases there to 4,663.

Ten days since first easing of restrictions, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said there were five new Covid-19 admissions to intensive care today and 15 admissions to hospital. "That's an increase. The National Public Health Emengency Team is a little bit worried and will be watching that."

When asked if Ireland had one of the strictest lockdown regimes, Dr Holohan replied "we do not". 

In relation to the two metre rule, he said they're clear on the advice that they have and that the current guideline "represents a reasonable interpretation of the evidence and a precautionary approach to its application".

He said they think "it's the right measure for now" but they keep all this under review.

The Chief Medical Officer said he does not envisage changes to the interval between the phases of the road map to re-open the country or the measures contained in each stage.

In relation to the resumption of cancer screening, Dr Holohan said there was extensive work happening in the HSE over the next couple of weeks. There were "plans in relation to the development of hospital and community based services including screening and it's hoped it will resume once it's safe".


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Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan speaking at today's press briefing (pic: Rolling new 

Meanwhile detailed data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) dating from midnight Tuesday 26 May (relating to 24,730 cases) reveals:

- 57% are female and 43% are male with the median age of confirmed cases being 48 years
- 3,251 cases (13%) have been hospitalised and of those, 399 cases were admitted to ICU
- 7,891 cases are associated with healthcare workers

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 11,961 (48% of all cases) followed by Cork with 1,451 cases (6%) and then Kildare with 1,408 cases (6%).

Of those for whom transmission status is known: community transmission accounts for 40%, close contact accounts for 58%, travel abroad accounts for 2%.

Dr Holohan said: "To date, 90% of confirmed cases diagnosed with Covid-19 have recovered. But we cannot afford to stop the hard work involved in suppressing this virus.

"Covid-19 is a new disease. Ireland and the world understand more about the virus now than we did at the outset of this crisis. What we do know is that hand washing, social distancing and knowing when to self-isolate do work.

"We know that the vast majority of Irish people understand this, and that they are staying the course with us as we continue to keep case numbers as low as possible."

Earlier today, Chief Clinical Officer of the Health Service Executive Dr Colm Henry said Covid-19 has been "beaten off the streets of our towns and cities and into households".

Dr Henry said these gains have been hard fought for and this success has been due to the efforts of every single Irish person who has played their part.

He warned that we should take great care before we "jump in and reverse" these significant gains and the HSE is advising people not to fly for non-essential travel.

Dr Henry said he did not accept that the principle of quarantine is ineffective and it has been introduced in many European countries, the US and Canada.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said it was unrealistic to quarantine everyone at an airport but people should be expected to self-isolate for 14 days, in recognition of the fact that they may be asymptomatic.

Dr Colm Henry says everyone has made an effort to stop the spread of Covid-19 (pic: Rollingnews.ie)

Dr Henry was responding to Ryanair group chief executive Michael O'Leary who has called for the removal of what he termed "ineffective quarantine measures".

The HSE said Covid-19 has been virtually extinguished in the country, at this point.

In relation to nursing homes, Dr Henry said the HSE acted on the concerns the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) raised and every single nursing home - public and private - was contacted from the end of March onwards. 

He said no distinction was made between private and public nursing homes in the help and infection control measures provided.

An expert advisory group will look at the experience in the residential care setting and see what can be done to avoid outbreaks in the future, he said, adding there have been no outbreaks in residential settings since last week.