An interim report from the Covid-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel has been submitted to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

The eight-page document, seen by RTÉ News, says the panel has received around 40 written submissions through the public consultation process but is still reviewing the issues.

The panel says that its final report, with findings and recommendations, will be submitted to Mr Donnelly by mid-July.

The report says the panel has written to over 30 identified organisations and individuals for submissions.

It also wrote to 584 designated centres for older people, inviting their input and is meeting a small number of nursing homes, in its final strand of work, including some direct site visits.

The panel says it is also engaging with a number of residents and relatives identified from independent advocacy sources "who have expressed the desire to share their thoughts and experiences".

The report says that Covid-19 is a new disease, which can present atypically in frail older people, and new evidence and best practice in its management are constantly emerging.

The panel has conducted its primary business through video calls and held its first formal meeting on 29 May.

The panel is assisted in organising its business by a Department of Health support team.

The panel says that it "is an independent entity, is responsible for the decisions and direction of its work as well as how this work is organised".

"A rapid systematic review is being undertaken to investigate measures implemented in long term care facilities to reduce transmission of, and morbidity resulting from SARS-CoV2. Economic issues associated with the virus (cost issues, cost effectiveness, procurement) are also being investigated," the report states.

It was set up by the previous Minister for Health, on foot of a recommendation on 23 May from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

The panel says its role is to examine the complex issues surrounding the management of Covid-19 among this particularly vulnerable group.

It is examining the national and international responses to the crisis.

The panel says that its particular interest is in making recommendations for the continued response to the virus, to safeguard nursing home residents over the next six to 18 months.