The situation with cases of Covid-19 is "volatile" and remains "at high risk", this evening's briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team has heard.
It comes after an earlier briefing by the Health Service Executive heard that by end of this week there will have been close to 750,000 vaccine doses administered.
Here are five things we learned from the two briefings:
Despite restrictions, disease activity is not decreasing
The chief executive of the HSE told this afternoon's briefing yhat unfortunately the disease activity in the community is not now decreasing, despite very significant societal restrictions in place
Paul Reid said there has been a 9% increase in case numbers in the last week compared to the previous week.
He said this is being mirrored in trends all across Europe.
Mr Reid added that the trend in hospitalisations continued to go down, but they know there is a lag effect between increased cases in communities and hospitalisations, so there is not a direct and immediate correlation between the two.
Paul Reid says that unfortunately the disease activity in the community is not now decreasing despite significant societal restrictions in place. He said there has been a 9% increase in case numbers in the last week compared to the previous week | https://t.co/8B7I1I8uB7 pic.twitter.com/PceL2oh7qu— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 25, 2021
One million doses expected between now and end of April
Paul Reid reiterated that vaccine supplies are expected to ramp up in the coming months, with one million doses expected between now and the end of April.
He said that at least one extra vaccine supplier - Johnson & Johnson - will contribute to Irish vaccine supplies in the next quarter.
Mr Reid said that plans to "scale up" the vaccination programme are in place to meet the increased supply.
"The public will increasingly experience more and more people they know, and more and more family members, who have been vaccinated," he said.
Paul Reid says that between now and the end of April, forecasted supplies will give us around one million vaccines. He says vaccination locations will also strengthen in Q2, with vaccinations taking place in hospitals, GP practices and some pharmacies | https://t.co/8B7I1I8uB7 pic.twitter.com/wXFHGadVjI— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 25, 2021
Read more: Latest coronavirus stories
Vaccination programme to return us to 'normality'
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn told this evening's NPHET briefing that the vaccination programme will "bring us back to a level of normality that we haven't experienced since 2019".
He said "there are brighter days coming", given the impact of vaccination in nursing homes and among healthcare workers, and the effect of vaccination that can be seen in countries such as Israel.
"We can see what is coming here is really dramatic. It will bring us back to a level of normality that we really we haven't experienced since 2019, effectively.
"But we need to get there, we need to avoid another wave," he cautioned.
The vaccination programme will 'bring us back to a level of normality that we haven't experienced since 2019,' Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said, as he urged people to stick with Covid-19 restrictions | Follow live updates: https://t.co/PCK4VdKHAU pic.twitter.com/cup6hdTEhE— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 25, 2021
'Constant' level of hospital admissions since late February
The Chair of NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said all indicators of Covid-19 show that Ireland is either at a very static position or one that is increasing slowly.
Professor Philip Nolan said the average number of cases reported over the last seven days up until Wednesday was 564. The lowest number in recent weeks was 487 on 10 March.
Speaking at a briefing from the NPHET, Prof Nolan said the seven day averages since then have been between 500-570 for that period.
He said this was not a definitive trend upwards, but described it as "stable or increasing".
Prof Nolan said there has been an almost constant number of new admissions to hospital since 26 February - between 20 and 25 people being admitted each day.
He said this was the strongest indicator that we are at a static or potentially disimproving situation.
There has been an almost constant number of new admissions to hospitals with Covid-19 since 26 February, Professor Philip Nolan has said, saying it is an indicator we are in a 'static or potentially disimproving situation' | Follow live updates: https://t.co/PCK4VdKHAU pic.twitter.com/aW6PfXl8Ke— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 25, 2021
Walk-in testing to be expanded to 'black spots'
The opening of "walk-in" testing centres is "a very welcome development," according to Dr Glynn.
Every day, the uptake will be evaluated, and they worked very well today, according to Dr Miriam Owens, HSE public health specialist.
"It was heartening today to see it," she said. "Hopefully, we will have more of them."
At present the five test centres in Dublin and Offaly are in place for one week, but in the coming days they will be looking at "where are the black spots" to see where other centres can be placed.
"We’re consulting with my colleagues, other directors of public health around the country.. It will be on a need basis in terms of the risk of the disease," Dr Owens said.
There has been 'significant uptake' at all walk-in Covid testing centres, Dr Ronan Glynn has said.— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 25, 2021
HSE Public Health Specialist Dr Miriam Owens said further walk-in testing facilities may be introduced in Covid-19 'black spots' | Follow live updates: https://t.co/PCK4VdKHAU pic.twitter.com/J9aNghw4lC