Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the figure of 303 new cases of Covid-19 is the lowest number of daily cases reported since mid December.

The Department of Health announced two further deaths related to Covid-19 as well as the 303 new cases.

Dr Glynn said: "There are many reasons for hope as we head into a new week.

"This is the lowest number of daily cases reported since mid December. People's efforts continue to make a real difference; by keeping our social contacts low we are making it much harder for Covid-19 to spread.

"This morning we had the lowest number of people newly hospitalised with Covid-19 since the end of November.

Ronan Glynn

"Last week the millionth vaccine was given and this week should see a step-change in the number of doses administered.

"All of our children are going back to school tomorrow. From tomorrow we can travel within our county.

"If we can maintain this progress, vaccines and the basic public health measures with which we are all so familiar, are our way out of this pandemic."

Of the two deaths announced today, one occurred in March, and one occurred in April. It brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland to 4,785.

Today's new cases of Covid brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 240,945.

Of the new cases, 167 are men and 135 are women. Of these, 75% are under 45 years of age and the median age is 32 years old.

As of 8am, 213 people were in hospital with Covid, of which 53 were in ICU.

There has been seven additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

As of 8 April, 1,045,919 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland, with 735,997 people receiving their first dose and 309,922 people receiving their second dose.

Dr Glynn also advised: "Please do not take our children returning to school tomorrow as a signal to return to the workplace. Avoid mixing indoors with people from other households.

"Even if meeting outdoors, please watch your distance and only meet up with people from one other household at a time," he said. 

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One death and 89 new cases in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, one further coronavirus death has been recorded, taking the official toll there to 2,129. There have 89 new confirmed cases of the virus.

There are 84 confirmed Covid-19 patients in hospital, with eight in ICU, five of whom are on ventilators.

The average seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 is 34.9.

The area with the highest rate remains Derry and Strabane on 80.3, while the lowest remains Mid and East Antrim on 13.

The total number of vaccine doses administered in Northern Ireland is now 1,014,462.

Of those, 820,032 are first doses, while 194,610 people have also had their second jab.

The latest figures cover the 24-hour period up to 10.12am today. There were 10,364 doses administered during that time.

Reid praises significant impact of vaccinations

The number of Covid-related deaths reduced dramatically between February and March as HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid praised the "significant impacts" of the vaccination programme.

There have been 194 deaths linked to coronavirus notified to the Department of Health so far for March, compared to 831 for February.

This is a reduction in mortality rates of 76% month-on-month.

However, some Covid-related deaths for February and March may not yet have been notified to the department.

Paul Reid

Mr Reid told RTÉ News: "The vaccination programme is showing significant benefits for the most vulnerable [who have been] vaccinated to date."

He said the vaccinations had led to "reduced levels of sickness, hospitalisations and mortality for the older population".

Mr Reid pointed out that positivity from testing in nursing homes is at its lowest ever level at 0.08%.

"There has also been a radical reduction in infections amongst healthcare workers," he said.

He said the focus of the vaccination programme for the coming week will "continue to address the most medically vulnerable".


Read more: Covid-19: What restrictions will change from Monday?


GP practices are participating, for the first time, in the Covid-19 vaccination of medically vulnerable people aged between 16 and 69.

Around 1,100 practices are preparing to take part in the vaccinations in coming days.

Meanwhile, several walk-in test centres for Covid-19 are continuing to operate until 16 April in Mulhuddart, Ballyfermot, Finglas and Crumlin in Dublin, as well as Waterford and Limerick.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that "pretty much all the indicators are going in the right direction" in the battle against Covid-19.

In a video message posted on Twitter, he said: "Our vaccination programme hit a milestone this week with over one million vaccines administered.

"We can already see the benefits are really evident with cases in nursing homes, hospitals and among healthcare workers falling really dramatically."

Mr Donnelly added: "If we can stick with the measures that are in place ... and we get all the most vulnerable vaccinated ...can all look forward to a much better summer and avoid another wave.

"There are much brighter days ahead."

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Additional reporting Vincent Kearney, Moira Hannon