Coronavirus: Ireland infection rate drops to lowest level in two months

16 May 2020, 19:42

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a media briefing on coronavirus
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a media briefing on coronavirus. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

The number of new coronavirus infections in Ireland has dropped to its lowest level in two months.

There were another 92 cases of Covid-19 confirmed, taking the total in Ireland since the outbreak began to 24,048.

The coronavirus death toll in Ireland rose to 1,533 on Saturday, after a further 15 deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "Today is the first time we have seen the number of confirmed cases fall below 100 since mid-March.

"While the past nine weeks have been particularly difficult for those cocooning, and for parents with young children, today's numbers give reassurance that we have all learned and adopted new behaviours of handwashing, respiratory etiquette and social distance that will serve us well as we work together to re-open retail, business and society."

The first phase of Ireland's lockdown exit plan will begin next week.

From Monday, small groups of up to four people will be able to outside, while keeping two metres apart.

People involved mainly in outdoor work will be able to return to work, including construction workers, gardeners, and people tending to allotments.

Garden centres, hardware stores, farmers' markets, opticians and mechanics will also be able to reopen.

Sports like golf and tennis will be allowed again.

As the restrictions begin to lift, the public has been urged to wear face coverings when using busy public transport or in an enclosed indoor public area.