Nursing homes have been one of the settings hardest hit by Covid-19 infection and mortality during the pandemic, with more than 1,500 related deaths. File photograph: Getty

Move comes amid optimism in Government ahead of easing of restrictions on Monday

A  Covid-19 antigen test  which is available to buy at Lidl stores in Ireland. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan ‘genuinely concerned’ at sale of such kits

The Covid-19 vaccination centre in Citywest, Dublin. Some 220,000 to 240,000 people are expected to be vaccinated across the country this week, according to chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Over a third of the eligible population has now received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine

On Thursday night, the department reported eight further Covid-19 deaths – five of them from earlier months – along with 393 infections, as case numbers continue to remain stable despite the lifting of some restrictions. Photograph: iStock

IHME puts deaths from virus at 6.9m globally as it warns of under-reporting in every country

Ireland closed workplaces and businesses ‘much longer and tougher’ than any other European country. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Lax travel restrictions may have been ‘weak link’ in Covid defences, say UCD academics

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: ‘The choices we make now are vital to minimise the incidence of Covid-19 throughout May and June. Prioritise being outside and avoid crowds.’ Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Ministers consider ‘summer stimulus’ package as rollout of one-shot vaccine begins

Over 90 per cent of frontline healthcare workers have taken up the offer of vaccination, says the HSE

No plans by HSE to make Covid-19 vaccines mandatory for health workers

‘Any in-between solution will result in avoidable loss of patients’ lives,’ the Beaumont neurosurgeons say in a letter to The Irish Times. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Doctors advocate co-locating national neurosurgical centre rather than siting two centres in two hospitals

The chief medical officer said it was important people avoided crowds as reopening continued. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Two further deaths and 383 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the State

Cannabis: Psychiatric services could be “overrun” by a surge in young people needing treatment of mental issues linked to the drug. Image: iStock.

Drug potency and misconception as harmless are ‘devastating’, psychiatrists warn

Tayto Park reopens to the public: Five-month-old Anna with her mum, Claire Monaghan, from Duleek, Co Meath, say hello to the tiger as the easing of Covid-19 restrictions allowed the park to welcome visitors back on Friday. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Nphet letter came ahead of Cabinet decision to approve easing of restrictions

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

National public health regulation compliance dropped since January, says ESRI

Meat-processing plants have reported some 3,000 cases during pandemic

Meat-processing plants have reported some 3,000 cases during pandemic

Members of the Defence Forces at the Citywest Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Taskforce is currently reviewing the Covid jab rollout plan due to supply issues

Ireland currently has close to 30%  first-dose coverage of all adults, but needs to get this up over 40%  to make the success made possible by vaccination stick.   Photograph: Getty Images

Analysis: Research findings demonstrate the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines

 Medical personnel prepare a Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19. Photograph: Bienvenido Velasco/EPA

Half of 3,500 housebound adults have received first Covid-19 vaccine

Eileen Hyland, who died in 2017. Her son describes hospital’s decision as ‘fitting legacy’ which he hopes ‘ will help a lot more families in the future’.

Family challenged initial decision not to provide radioactive iodine therapy

 Beaumont Hospital: Doctors here say the decision  will  lead to a fragmented provision of services in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Government’s decision criticised by staff at State’s main neurosurgery centre

The number of outbreaks in schools rose six-fold in a week, to 31 last week from five the previous week. Photograph: iStock

Number of clusters in workplaces decline while there none reported in nursing homes

Stephen Lynch died after being hit by a car in Brookview, Tallaght. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Lynch was murdered when he was struck by a vehicle in Tallaght in 2017

A member of the public arriving at a walk-in test centre in Dublin: The centres support enhanced testing for local communities and allow further identification of any variants of concern, says HSE. File photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Celbridge opens facility with Tullamore to follow as 42,900 people have been tested since programme began

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is to be recommended for use by over-50s. Photograph: Giuseppe Lami/EPA

Use of both vaccines had been curtailed due to concerns around blood-clotting events

The scene of the fatal shooting of Det Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Key person of interest in fatal shooting of Det Adrian Donohoe released without charge

Both the Brazilian and South African variants carry a mutation in the spike protein – the part of the virus that allows it to infect a host – called E484K, which helps bypass immunity from past infection.

Variant cases found but they may struggle to get foothold due to UK B117 dominance

Vaccinators administering Covid 19 Vaccinations of Cohort 4 at the HSE Vaccination Centre in the Aviva Stadium .Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Number of Covid-19 patients in hospital falls to 162, the lowest level since October

Almost exactly a year ago Ireland stood on the edge of the first great reopening in this pandemic. Photograph: Tom Honan/The Irish Times

For the third time we stand on the threshold of reopening. Let’s get it right this time

The European Medicines Agency has reiterated that the benefits of AstraZeneca’s vaccine outweigh any risks. File photograph: Getty

Change to supply plan comes after EMA licenses manufacture of drug in Asian plant

Despite a new spike in the case numbers, Dr Holohan and other officials remain unperturbed. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Approval for Johnson & Johnson jab could see Ireland catch up quickly on neighbours

The Health Protection Regulatory Authority says the vast majority of side effects are mild to moderate in nature, and the benefits of Covid-19 vaccines continue to outweigh the risks. Photograph: Gent Shkullaku/AFP

Fewer than five reports of clotting with low platelets post-jab, regulatory authority says

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, flanked by his deputy  Dr Ronan Glynn (right) and Professor Philip Nolan (left), addresses a press conference at the Department of Health. Photogaph:  Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Further 10 deaths due to Covid-19 and 617 new cases reported

A dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. File photograph: Laura Hutton/The Irish Times

Pharma multinational announces plans for its own programme of family vaccination

Antigen testing will ‘play its part in allowing students back’ onto college campuses after the summer, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told a meeting of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party. File image: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Taoiseach rules out lifting of overseas holiday ban in early summer

Covid signage in Merrion Square  in Dublin’s city centre.Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Five school outbreaks last week, down from 14 the previous week and 44 a week earlier

Coalition sources say following changes to the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and the uncertainty around Johnson & Johnson, all options have  to be considered to keep the vaccination programme on track. Photograph: Getty Images

Senior medics say a significant benefit to the vaccination programme would be needed to justify extending the gap

When certain variants increase the risk to human health, they are considered to be variants of concern (VOCs)

B1617 cases in England are doubling weekly, with the latest update recording 103 cases

Acting chief medical officer Dr  Ronan Glynn: ‘From what has been published online about this variant you’d be forgiven for thinking the world was coming to an end.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn criticises ‘unhelpful’ media coverage and speculation over B1617 variant

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was no point in updating advice on the gap between Covid-19 vaccine doses until the European Medicines Agency  advises on the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine later this week. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

No further deaths and 403 more Covid-19 cases reported in the State

The Citywest Covid-19 vaccination centre in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Resistance to change has led Ireland down some very strange paths in this pandemic

Of the 18 positive Covid-19 cases in mandatory hotel quarantine to date, four involved variants of concern. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Of 532 people to quarantine in hotels in past three weeks, 18 tested positive for Covid-19

Rates of admission to ICU for B117 cases were similar to those recorded for cases not infected with variants of concern. Photograph: Getty Images

B117 is up to 70% more transmissible than previous variants, and was first identified in Ireland in mid-December

Hiqa inspectors found the screening of patients arriving in the emergency department for Covid-19 did not take place until registration.

Report is critical of actions taken by hospital to separate virus and non-virus patients

 Dr Ronan Glynn, acting chief medical officer. Photograph: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

309 new coronavirus cases and 8 further deaths reported in the State

Greencore ceo Patrick Coveney strongly criticised the Government’s mandatory hotel quarantine policy.  File image: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Greencore chief Patrick Coveney accuses Government of ‘incompetence and lack of foresight’

Prof Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, has advised that AstraZeneca vaccines should not be given to under-60s. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/

Analysis: New advice will affect thousands of patients due to be inoculated this week

The  recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) was prompted by reports across Europe of unusual but severe clotting events as very rare side-effects to the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP via Getty Images

HSE rescheduling appointments as Niac recommends not giving vaccine to under-60s

The number of patients waiting for day case/inpatient care increased by 111 per cent. Photograph: iStock

Many patients will deteriorate while waiting for treatment, conference hears

The guidelines are likely to advise stronger measures to ensure pregnant women are not exposed to the virus. Photograph: Getty Images

Evidence shows risk of virus to foetus causing stillbirth in six of seven reported cases

Deputy chief medical officer  Dr Ronan Glynn. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

Latest figures show a further 12,475 doses of Covid-19 vaccinations administered

 Professor Karina Butler, Chair of National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Ronan Glynn said the change in advice was based on ‘an abundance of caution’

Henry Street: We appear to have the latest crop of variants of concern under control, but new variants could emerge that are either more transmissible, more lethal or effective in resisting current vaccines. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Analysis: Covid-19 rates still high but not among elderly as we move to cut economic carnage

Last month, the Nphet reported four cases of placentitis resulting in stillbirth. Photograph: iStock

Officials consider whether to strengthen virus-related advice for pregnant women

Several EU countries have limited the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to only older people –as the clots have affected younger people – while the UK has confined it to those aged over 30. Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Officials awaiting advice as drug linked to blood clots which have affected younger people

A vaccination centre at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park, in Dublin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘People’s efforts continue to make a real difference,’ says acting Chief Medical Officer

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn: Ireland is ‘weeks away from having the population vaccinated and [we] do not want to go backwards’. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

Plans to expand quarantine list next week as first Irish case of ‘rare’ blood clot investigated

Members of the Defence Forces at the Citywest Covid-19 vaccination centre in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Seven further deaths and 400 new cases reported on Thursday evening

More than 30,000 people were vaccinated on Good Friday, the first time the daily figure approached something like the intended peak capacity of the system. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Up to 960,000 vaccine doses expected to be delivered and 860,000 set to get dose in April

 Grafton Street: The easings under consideration  would relieve pressure on the contact tracing system, allowing more resources to be focused on high-risk cases. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Nphet likely to consider lifting mask requirement as extra ‘vaccine bonus’

Beacon Hospital in Dublin. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Analysis: ‘Queue jumping’ and lack of transparency compounding anger over progress

Gardaí have said high-visibility patrols at public amenities, parks and beauty spots will continue across the country this weekend. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Nphet member Dr Mary Horgan urges public to ‘think before they travel’ over Easter

  AstraZeneca’s Dan Wygal: ‘In the coming weeks, we’ll have some of the largest shipments yet sent into Ireland.’

Pharma firm disappointed over failure to meet commitments, says Dan Wygal

Preliminary figures from the first day of Covid-19 testing of symptom-free people at the HSE’s five walk-in centres showed a positivity rate of between 1%   and 2%  on more than 1,700 swabs taken.  Photograph:   Getty Images

Minister: ‘Absolutely no defence’ after Bray fee-paying school teachers get jabs from private Beacon Hospital

Marie Brennan, from Clontarf, has been waiting since February to be immunised against Covid-19.

Marie Brennan from Clontarf is housebound and was unable to her GP last month

Paul Reid chief executive of the Health Service Executive. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

Play dates ‘clearly’ a factor behind Covid-19 cases in children, says Paul Reid

Tullamore resident Christine Cutler  leaves the HSE mobile walk-in Covid-19 test centre in the Co Offaly town, one of five centres which have been opened to catch  asymptomatic cases of the virus. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Taoiseach says ‘leverage has to be there’ to ensure Europe ‘has sufficient vaccines’

One in 10 people visited another household for social reasons in mid-March, according to the Department of Health. File photograph: The Irish Times

Three further deaths and 606 more cases confirmed in the State

P1 includes a key mutation, called E484K, which may help the virus evade antibodies, part of the immune system.

Republic has nine cases to Britain’s 10 of Covid version blamed for surge in Manaus city

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn on Monday described a ‘mixed picture’ in outbreaks across the country. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Six classes in Longford school sent home after five Covid-19 cases confirmed

Prof Philip Nolan, chairman of the Nphet Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, at Monday’s Covid-19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Outpatient appointments and elective procedures to be fully restored from June

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Extra testing may be introduced to tackle high case numbers in some counties

Average daily cases of Covid-19 have been stalled for weeks. File photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Analysis: Pandemic severity best measured by death toll, and ICU and hospital figures

Dr Gerard Waters, a GP at the Whitethorn Clinic in Celbridge, said  he would not administer the Covid-19 vaccine on the basis he believed it was untrustworthy and unnecessary. Photograph: Alan Betson

Gerard Waters of Celbridge a ‘conscientious objector’ who opposes jab and test referral

A construction site in Dublin’s city centre. Under plans being examined by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, home-building could be considered from April 5th, but work on commercial premises such as offices would still not be allowed. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

If Covid-19 cases remain high travel restrictions could be expanded only to 10km or perhaps 8km

About 300 housebound patients, out of an estimated 1,500, have been vaccinated so far, mostly around Dublin. Photograph: Luong Thai Linh/EPA

Great-grandmother from Galway may be the oldest unvaccinated person in the State

It has been a year since the first Covid-19 related death in Northern Ireland. Photograph: iStock

A year after first reported Covid-19 death in Northern Ireland, death toll reaches 2,877

A nurse fills a syringe with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Miguel Riopa /AFP via Getty Images)

National Immunisation Advisory Committee says use can begin after clotting concern

Some at Cabinet believe the incidence of Covid-19 is not low enough to warrant relaxation of restrictions, while others believe the Government will lose vital public buy-in without a change. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins

Pessimism expressed on key metrics of hospitalisations, vaccinations and cases

There are no certainties generally in medicine but it is only too clear, with Covid-19 cases rising once again in many parts of Europe, how much the vaccine is needed. Photograph:  Gent Shkullaku

EMA determines vaccine safe and effective and its protection outweighs any risks

There has been a further increase in the number of cases involving variants of concern, according the Nphet

No further deaths, as 582 more cases of coronavirus reported in the State

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine: Irish officials are working on contingency arrangements in case the EMA decides to pause or vary the existing authorisation.  Photograph: Christophe Ena/ AP

Decision to suspend AstraZeneca vaccine will see delay for thousands in high-risk category

The report found the majority of injuries happened in the home. Photograph: iStock

Boys account for more injuries, with most occurring in the afternoon in summer

The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine: there is a political tinge to much of the narrative around its authorisation and supplies. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty

Analysis: Danger of falling ill from Covid-19 appears far greater than the threat of blood clotting

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn. ‘We are seeing this play out across Europe with many countries now experiencing pressure on their hospital and critical care capacities. We must not let this happen here.’ Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins.

Public health expert says number of infections detected daily ‘static, if not increasing’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty

Government to await outcome of EMA investigation before deciding on future use of vaccine

Deirdre O’Brien is recovering from a stroke she suffered three years ago. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

‘We have uncovered a new neuro-rehabilitation solution that really works’

The total number of deaths in the State since the pandemic began remains at 4,534 while the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 226,741.   File photograph: PA

Almost 300,000 pupils across the country due to return to school on Monday morning

The AstraZeneca review covered more than 17m people vaccinated in the European Union and United Kingdom. Photograph: Getty

Some 30,000 people could potentially be affected by postponement, says HSE chief

Dr Gabriel Scally has said there is still ‘plenty of virus circulating’ in Ireland. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell/The Irish Times

Scally says ‘amazing amount of travel’ still happening as daily case rate remains over 500

Government sources briefed on Nphet concerns say uncertainty over the new variants of the virus is at the heart of current fears.

Varadkar rules out April 5th relaxations in event of numbers going in wrong direction

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being administered. Photograph: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty

Deliveries will be smaller than anticipated, with GPs criticising ongoing logistical issues

‘We are sailing very close to the wind,’ said Nphet’s modelling expert Prof Philip Nolan on Thursday. ‘A gust of wind in the wrong direction and we’re in real trouble.’ Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins.

Analysis: Nphet commentary says little about where cases arise as lockdown frustrations grow

Covid-19 signage in  St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. A National Public Health Emergency Team member has called on people to ‘hold on’ for a few more weeks to keep the disease suppressed. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times.

Nphet member urges public to ‘hold on’ as 10 further deaths and 646 cases reported

There was further criticism of  AstraZeneca  from the Government and the HSE over the reliability of its vaccine delivery schedule, but the approval of the one-shot Johnson&Johnson vaccine for use in the EU was welcomed.  Photograph: Getty Images

Nursing home residents allowed two visits a week on compassionate grounds

With more classes open now, more of the cases among children will inevitably be picked up in schools, Nphet official Prof Philip Nolan pointed out. Photograph: Alan Betson

Nphet reported 10 further deaths of Covid-19 patients and 592 new cases on Thursday

More than 650 HSE staff, most of them frontline workers, are cocooning at home because they are considered vulnerable to coronavirus. Photograph: iStock

HSE in dilemma over prospect of legal action if workers fall ill after returning to work

An original figure of 1.7m vaccine doses was based on advance purchase agreements with manufacturers. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty

Dáil committee also told of South African mutation; both variants bypass immunity

HSE chief executive Paul Reid will tell the Oireachtas health committee  that Ireland is among the top five countries in the EU for vaccine rollouts.  Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Supply issues mean deliveries will fall far short of forecast 1.7m doses by end of March

HSE officials have been designated to liaise with individual doctors so that supply and other issues can be quickly ironed out. Photograph: Ricardo Arduengo/AFP via Getty

GP practices faced delayed deliveries, reduced supplies and lack of syringes last week

Prof Philip Nolan and  Dr Ronan Glynn of the National Public Health Emergency Team at a press briefing on Monday. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

'Vaccine bonus' may come into effect for those who have been inoculated

Hiqa has doubled the timeframe of immunity after infection of Covid-19. Image: Paul Scott/The Irish Times

Immunity period doubled as State’s health watchdog reviews international evidence

The HSE issued an alert after coroners identified coronavirus infection of the placenta as a factor in four stillbirths in January and February

Information on stillbirths ‘very much preliminary’, further evidence required – HSE

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