Leo Varadkar hails ‘day of hope' as no new Covid-19 deaths reported in Republic of Irelandby Aine McMahon and Cate McCurry, PA
The Republic of Ireland has recorded no new Covid-19 deaths for the first time since March.
Fifty-nine more cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed, bringing the number to 24,698.
The total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the Republic is 1,606.
The last day when no death was reported in the Republic was on March 21.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed the news as a “day of hope”.
He tweeted: “Significant milestone today. First day with no reported #CoVid19 deaths since March 21st. This is a day of hope. We will prevail.”
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the number of new cases and reported deaths over the past week “indicates that we have suppressed Covid-19 as a country”.
He added: “It has taken strict measures to achieve this. It will take another week to see any effect on disease incidence that might arise from the easing of measures in Phase 1.”
The state is entering the second week in easing its lockdown laws which saw the reopening of a number of retail stores and some sporting activities.
There have been calls from restaurant owners and hairdressers for the two-metre rule to be relaxed so they can reopen more quickly.
Dr Holohan cautioned against changing the current social distancing measure from two metres to one metre.
He said: “With that particular measure, it is simply a case that the risk of two metres is less than a distance of one metre. It is important to understand that on its own and I have talked about this with regard to face coverings… it is not a magic thing on its own.
“A measure of two metres does not mean everything is safe outside of two metres and everything less than two metres is less safe, it is a risk.
“We think for the moment, two metres is a reasonable compromise given where we are but everything is kept under review and I understand the difficulty that businesses find themselves in.”
The Minister for Health said it will become clear later this week whether the easing of restrictions has led to more cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.
Simon Harris said he is feeling “optimistic”, however he warned the public cannot “get sloppy” and urged people to continue following public health advice.
He also told the RTE 2FM breakfast show that the advice around maintaining a two-metre physical distance is also under review.
A senior civil servant told Monday’s Government Covid-19 briefing that there is “a lot of discussion and speculation” about whether some of the public health advice and the road map schedule of reopening will change.
Liz Canavan said the current advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is that people should physically distance by two metres.
She said: “That remains the public health advice from the Government and similar is in place in countries around the world.
“Any changes to the current restrictive social distancing measure must be slow and incremental. This approach is essential, as going too far too fast could result in a sudden surge in infections.”