Another 44 people with coronavirus have died in the Republic of Ireland, it was confirmed on Friday.

It was the worst day of fatalities linked to the virus so far and brought the total number of deaths to 530.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre also confirmed another 709 people had tested positive for the virus.

There are now a total of 13,980 confirmed cases in Ireland.

On Thursday, the head of Ireland’s coronavirus modelling team said coronavirus infections have reached a plateau and should start to fall.

Prof Philip Nolan from Maynooth University has been leading a team of about 50 mathematicians to examine the growth rate of Covid-19.

He told the daily briefing there was evidence the state’s lockdown measures were working.

However, Prof Nolan said lifting restrictions could reverse any gains.

He said that since 3 April the growth rate in new cases has been “close to zero” and the numbers attending ICU have also been stable.

Prof Nolan said had emergency measures not been taken, the Republic could have been looking at 1,700 deaths so far.

At the start of the crisis, each confirmed case was infecting on average 4.5 people but that figure is now down to between 0.7 and 1 and falling.

Source of concern
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan told the briefing: “In the population, at large, the virus is contained and effectively suppressed.

“However, the experience of the disease in long-term residential care centres continues to be a source of concern.”

Dr Holohan said 302 of the Republic’s 486 deaths at that point were in residential centres.

The authorities are actively seeking to redeploy nursing staff to work in such homes to help deal with the crisis.

Easing of lockdown

The Republic of Ireland is to extend its Covid-19 restrictions until 5 May.

The further restrictions were announced by Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar last week.

Thanking the public for their “forbearance and sacrifice”, he warned restrictions “won’t be eased in one go”.

“They’ll have to be done bit by bit,” he said.