Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the reproductive rate of Covid-19 is estimated to be 0.7.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said the very small number of cases makes the rate very hard to estimate and that "it is important to remain vigilant and careful not to catch or transmit the virus as we go about our daily business". 

A reproduction rate of 0.7 for the virus means that if ten people become infected with Covid-19, they are likely to pass the virus on to seven other people between them.

He said the National Public Health Emergency Team will meet tomorrow to examine the next steps and "how we can condense our roadmap into two phases".

He said the Government hopes to make some decisions at Cabinet later this week.  

Minister Harris also told the Dáil it is very clear public health advice to now wear face masks in a number of situations.

He said it is a habit people have to get used to. Mr Harris then took his own mask out of his pocket and said that just like when people pick up keys and wallet and a phone, they should also now have their masks with them.    

He appealed to anyone feeling unwell to stay at home and self-isolate due to the concerns he said about some clusters within private households increasing.

On figures of Covid-19 in nursing homes, he said it is welcome news that this week's figures show of the 256 clusters in nursing homes, 174 have now closed. 

The minister said it is necessary for adults with disabilities to get back to services they had before the pandemic.

"I am pleased the HSE has now developed a number of important guidance documents to assist disability services," he said.

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Meanwhile, this evening Mr Harris extended the period of application of the passenger locator form by three weeks, until 9 July.

The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Requirements) (Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form) Regulations 2020, requires passengers arriving into Ireland from overseas to complete a passenger locator form indicating their place of residence and contact details for the next 14 days (or for the duration of their stay in the State if shorter).

Earlier, the number of patients in hospital intensive care units with confirmed Covid-19 reduced further to 20.

The latest figures from the Health Service Executive also show that there were 11 patients in ICU with suspected Covid-19 and awaiting test results.

Overall, there were 62 patients in hospitals overnight with confirmed Covid-19, compared with 71 the previous day.