The HSE has said that so far today an additional 17,600 people have registered to book Covid-19 vaccinations after it opened to 68-year-olds this morning.

It said that 90% of this morning's bookings came through the online portal on HSE.ie with the remainder being made through the HSE-Live phone line 1850-24-1850.

This brings to 46,684 the total number of 68 and 69-year-olds who have registered for vaccination bookings with the HSE since the system went live yesterday morning.

The online portal for registrations is open 24-hours a day.

From tomorrow, the system will be available for 67-year-olds to register.

Once the portal is made available for any particular age group, those in that group do not have to register on the day, but can instead register at their convenience over the following days and weeks.

The HSE's National Clinical Lead for the vaccine programme said that once people have registered for an appointment, those in the 65-69 age group will be scheduled for their vaccines from the middle of next week.

Damien McCallion said that it will take three weeks to vaccinate this group and a further three weeks to vaccinate the next group by age, those between the ages of 60 to 64.

Mr McCallion said he expects all people aged in their 60s will have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of May.

The vaccinations for people aged between 60 and 69 will take place at 37 HSE vaccination centres set up around the country.

The centres will be open on a phased basis in the weeks ahead.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said that "after a roller coaster week, the programme has again been reset to an exciting phase, as it now reaches the wider population".

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Meanwhile, the first of four new temporary walk-in Covid-19 test centres opened this morning.

Three are in Dublin - at Parnell's GAA Club on Main Street in Coolock which opened today, St Catherine's Community Sports Centre in the Liberties from tomorrow, and Tallaght Stadium from Sunday.

The fourth will open at the Primary Care Centre in Cahir, Co Tipperary, tomorrow.

Over the past three weeks, 30,000 people have availed of similar walk-in test centres with 840 testing positive for the virus.

These centres are in addition to two new "static" walk-in Covid-19 test centres that opened on a pilot basis on Wednesday in Mullingar, Co Westmeath and Dunmanway, Co Cork.

One temporary test centre, which opened last week at Cumann Naomh Peregrine, Blakestown Road, Mulhuddart in Dublin, will remain open for a further five days until next Wednesday 21 April.

The test centres, which are free, are for people over 16 who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 and have not tested positive for the virus in the last six months, but who would like to be tested now.

The HSE said last week that 50% of those who tested positive for the virus at walk-in test centres did identify symptoms of the infection after they were diagnosed.

It also transpired that 40% of those who subsequently tested positive turned out to be close contacts of other confirmed cases.

The HSE also revealed that it has so far tested 818 hotel quarantine residents and 249 hotel quarantine staff for Covid-19. From these 18 of the residents and one member of staff tested positive for the virus.

Most of the cases identified involved the more highly transmissible B117 variant first identified in the UK or the original so-called "wild" variant of the virus.

However, in four cases the strain identified was P1 variant first identified in Brazil or the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa. Both of these are variants of concern.

Yesterday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that Ireland is now amongst the best positioned countries in Europe in relation to Covid-19 and that daily case numbers are better than NPHET could have hoped for a few weeks ago.

He said the improvement is first and foremost the result of people abiding by the public health messages, and this has made a massive difference.