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covid latest Coronavirus Ireland: Eight further deaths and 448 more cases confirmed

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HSE paramedic Andrew Connaughton conducts a Covid swab on Charlotte Lynch, at the HSE walk-in Covid test centre at Castletown House in Celbridge (Picture: Frank McGrath)

HSE paramedic Andrew Connaughton conducts a Covid swab on Charlotte Lynch, at the HSE walk-in Covid test centre at Castletown House in Celbridge (Picture: Frank McGrath)

HSE paramedic Andrew Connaughton conducts a Covid swab on Charlotte Lynch, at the HSE walk-in Covid test centre at Castletown House in Celbridge (Picture: Frank McGrath)

There have been eight further deaths and 448 more Covid-19 cases, the Department of Health confirmed today.

This brings the total number of cases in the State to 254,013 and the total number of coronavirus-related fatalities to 4,937.

As restrictions eased on Monday, Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said this week is “a hopeful week and one that we have all been looking forward to”.

“We have gotten to this point by working together in following the public health advice and reducing incidence of disease in our communities," he said.

“The two primary targets as we try to exit the pandemic are vaccination and low transmission. If we can keep cases low and continue to vaccinate as many people as possible, we will find ourselves in a very different risk environment where we can see further easing of measures.

“Our task now is to keep the disease under control by following the basic measures and taking up our vaccine when it is offered to us.”

A decision by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on whether the age limit for the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be lowered is expected this week.

Up to 200,000 45-49 year-olds could be fully vaccinated with the J&J vaccine alone in June should the advice on the one-shot vaccine change.

The HSE is believed to be asking if the age restriction around the one-shot vaccine can be lowered from 50 to 45.

The move would accelerate the vaccination roll-out and help ease the way for more significant lifting of restrictions over June and July.

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