The Acting Chief Medical Officer has said that while the coronavirus situation is improving in Kildare, the number of cases has not stabilised to a point to enable a lifting of restrictions at this point.

However, speaking at this evening's media briefing, Dr Ronan Glynn said the measures in place in the county to slow the spread of Covid-19 "are having precisely the effect we want".

The National Public Health Emergency Team met today to review the latest trends on Covid-19 and the situation in Co Kildare, which remains under restrictions that were introduced earlier this month.

Dr Glynn said the situation will continue to be closely monitored.

There have been 93 cases of the virus reported today, with seven reported in Kildare.

The Chief Executive of Kildare Chamber of Commerce has expressed disappointment at the news.

Allan Shine said that the body was "really encouraged" by the low number of cases in the county today but he said it is disappointed that NPHET has "indicated they want to keep the county in lockdown".

He urged the Government to lift restrictions on cafes, restaurants and pubs serving food, saying many businesses in Kildare are "at breaking point and at the point of closure".

"We must learn how to live with this virus both as citizens and businesses until a vaccine is found," he said.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has previously said that while the restrictions in Co Kildare are working, the difficult question for NPHET to consider is if the infection rate has been reduced enough, as lifting restrictions could cause it to increase again.

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Overnight figures show a small rise in the number of confirmed cases of the disease in hospital to 28, up two on earlier yesterday.

Meanwhile, four of the 28 patients confirmed with the virus in hospital are in intensive care.

The number of suspected cases in hospital has reduced from to 102 from 181.

Seven of these are in intensive care.

Ireland at 'delicate point' in pandemic

The Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland said the country is at a "delicate point" but there is a window of opportunity to get the virus under control.

Dr Emer Shelley said cases of Covid-19 have been "see-sawing" in recent weeks and urged people to take the situation "extremely seriously" and follow public health guidance.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Shelley said with the return to school many more people will have "routined their lives" and will not be moving around as much.

"My hope will be if we can get control of the virus we can maintain the current level and bring it right back down."

Dr Shelley said she thinks schools are a safe environment and there is very little child to child transmission of the virus in schools.

"In any risky situation you decide what the priorities are and getting children back to school is a really high priority," she added.

WHO to encourage face coverings for children aged 6-11

Word Health Organization Special Envoy on Covid-19 David Nabarro said new recommendations will encourage all children to adopt the same measures as adults to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19. 

Children aged 6 to 11 will be encouraged to wear face masks if a lot of virus is circulating in the community. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Nabarro said that in recent weeks UNICEF, the WHO and the International Pediatric Association carried out a major review of children in schools and Covid-19 precautions. 

It reached a consensus that fundamentally children need to act as similar as adults in most ways to reduce risks. 

He said it was agreed that children aged 12 and over should adopt the universal precautions that adults adopt, including wearing a face covering. 

It was also considered that children aged 6 to 11 can get the virus and transmit it but "it is a bit much" to ask children of that age to adopt social distancing and mask wearing in many circumstances.

However, where there is a lot of virus circulating in the community, it should be encouraged by teachers and parents working together. 

He said that children under five are excluded from the advice as it is still not clear how Covid-19 impacts this age group or is spread by such young children. 

Serial testing of nursing home staff continues

The CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland said "serial testing" of staff for Covid 19 continues across nursing homes on a fortnightly basis. 

Tadhg Daly said the positivity rate was quite low in Cycle 1 and they are now in Cycle 2 with staff being tested every two weeks with a recommendation that testing continues in this way for the foreseeable future.

Mr Daly said that from next week the nursing home or any other healthcare provider would be provided with information on possible positive cases so they can engage with staff and that nursing homes are in a much better place now in the fight against Covid-19.

The latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show there are 36 clusters in the sector and significant work done to suppress the virus.

Mr Daly did not rule out the possibility of visitors being tested in the future to ensure the virus is kept out of nursing homes and said they will be guided by public health.