Three of the four stillbirths first reported last week, which were suspected to have been caused by Covid-19, were indeed caused by the virus, the coroner's office has confirmed to NPHET.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the last of the four stillbirths suspected to have been due to Covid Placentitis is still under investigation.

Covid Placentitis is a rare condition that results when the virus attacks the placenta of an unborn child.

Last week, Dr Ronan Glynn said NPHET had been notified of four cases of stillbirths linked to the condition and that further investigation was ongoing to confirm that the deaths were due to Covid-19.  

Since then, it has emerged that all four cases had occurred since the start of January this year.

Before today, coroners had confirmed that two of the stillbirths were caused by the virus.

Today's announcement means that now three out of the four stillbirths have been scientifically shown to have been caused by Covid-19, while the fourth is still under investigation.

This evening, NPHET reported 10 additional deaths due to Covid-19 in the 24 hours to midnight last night. It said the ages of those who died ranged from 0 to 84.

The zero in the age range is due to the inclusion of the third stillbirth in today's figures.

Of the deaths announced today, eight happened in March, one in February and one in January.

The Department of Health was also notified of 592 confirmed new cases today.

There have been a total of 4,509 Covid-19 related deaths and 225,179 cases of the virus in Ireland.

Of the cases notified today, 299 were men and 288 were women, 72% of whom were under the age of 45.

The median age was 32 years old.

Dublin accounted for 253 of the cases, there were 52 in Kildare, 35 in Donegal, 33 in Meath, 28 in Galway and the remaining 191 cases are spread across all other counties.

As of 8am today, there were 359 people with Covid-19 in hospital, with 32 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

The number of people in ICU is 87, down five from yesterday.

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Chair of the NPHET Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Phillip Nolan has said while there is steady progress in all indicators for the disease there are some causes for concern and the National Public Health Emergency Team will be keeping an eye on these.

Speaking at the NPHET briefing, he said the number of cases per day has stabilised at around 500 recently and that NPHET would be monitoring this.

The decline is slower than in previous weeks and this is because of the new variant which is now dominant, he said.

The overall positivity rate is high, though it is going down, he added.

Prof Nolan said there was a slight uptick in the 7-day average in the last few days and they will be watching that very closely.

He said when that is mixed with increased mobility that is a cause for concern that it might be the beginning of something.

The briefing heard that the vast majority of cases of those aged 5-18 occur in the community or private homes.

There are currently about 100 cases a day and falling of those aged 5-18.

There were six outbreaks in schools in total reported this week.

Professor Philip Nolan confirmed there are very low case numbers in residential care settings and in healthcare workers due to vaccinations.

He said there was also a very clear reduction in number of deaths per week in residential care.

He said the reproductive number is estimated at less than 1 so the epidemic does not appear to be growing again. 

But, he said, given the varying daily case count, NPHET estimates the number at between 0.6 and 1. 

Public health doctors question mandatory quarantine guidance 

There is criticism of Government guidance on ending mandatory quarantine for some inward travellers to Ireland after five days if they have a negative PCR test.

Dr Ina Kelly, incoming president of the Irish Medical Organisation and a public health specialist in the Midlands Public Health department, told RTÉ's Prime Time that public health doctors cannot understand the guidance or the basis for it.

She said there was a risk not just of new infections entering the country, but of new dangerous variants too.

The legal requirement to quarantine says that if a journey began in high risk Category 2 countries, such as Brazil, passengers must quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether a test is negative or not.

But people arriving from non high risk countries can go for a PCR test after five days and if the result is negative or undetected, their quarantine can end.

Dr Kelly said specialists in public health medicine cannot understand the policy because the incubation period for Covid-19 is longer than five days.

They argue that no amount of mandatory quarantine will work if most passengers can end their quarantine if they get a PCR test after five days.

Dr Kelly and some of her public health specialist colleagues spoke to tonight's Prime Time about IT and resourcing difficulties they are experiencing in carrying out their statutory function to investigate and control infectious disease.

Earlier today, Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid conceded that the public health service IT system was "not match fit", but he said a number of fixes had been introduced to improve it and a new outbreak management database system was being "scoped out".