COVID-19 LATEST: Death toll soars by record high of 77 as number of confirmed cases rises to 15,652
Seventy-seven more people have died after contracting the coronavirus, the highest number reported in a single day since the coronavirus crisis began.
It brings the overall death toll as a result of the virus to 687.
The Department of Health also confirmed an additional 401 confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total here to 15,652.
Of the 77 deaths recorded today, some 54 of the patients were reported as having underlying health conditions.
Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Government is keen to reopen schools in the early phases of easing restrictions. But he said he did not want to speculate when this will be as the plan to do this has not been completed yet.
Schools have been shut since the middle of March when the Government acted to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The Taoiseach said: “I understand a lot of people are finding the lockdown difficult and I’d prefer not to raise hopes or raise expectations only to dash them.”
Mr Varadkar added he would like to see schools reopen, even for a day or two a week, because of the impact the restrictions could be having on the mental health and education of students.
He said he hoped the plan to ease restriction measures would be completed by the end of April or early May, adding that he hoped to give certainty to people at that time.
Meanwhile, the General Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), John Boyle, has said he would like to see primary schools re-opened on an “orderly, phased basis”.
Mr Boyle said the INTO wants to make sure that protections are in place for students, parents and teachers before schools re-open.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke, Mr Boyle said there are 10 weeks left in the primary school year so “it is feasible” if public health experts advise that primary schools could re-open at some stage in June. But he added: “It’s a huge decision”.