Ireland has reported its highest daily toll of deaths notified during the coronavirus outbreak, with 77 fatalities confirmed.
The total number of people with Covid-19 who have died in the country now stands at 687.
Health officials stressed that most of the deaths announced on Monday evening did not occur in the previous 24 hours – with the figure instead representing the number of deaths officially notified to the Department of Health since Sunday.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said there was a time lag in recording deaths and highlighted that the daily percentage increase in the overall death total is actually on the decrease in Ireland.
Of the 77 deaths reported on Monday, the first occurred on April 2, Dr Holohan said.
A further 401 cases of Covid-19 have also been confirmed, bringing the total in Ireland to 15,652.
Figures were also published on Monday highlighting the stark economic impact of the crisis, with more than one million people now either fully or partially dependent on the State for income support.
The current period of lockdown measures, which has forced the closure of many businesses and prevents people leaving their homes in all but limited circumstances, is due to expire on May 5.
Earlier, the Taoiseach expressed concern that complacency around the Covid-19 restrictions was setting in.
Leo Varadkar also said he would not speculate about when Ireland would reopen.
“Certainly anecdotally and speaking to people, there does seem to have been an increase in traffic and an increase in people out and about,” he said.
“It is OK for people to be out and about so long as they observe social distancing. It is OK for people to travel provided those journeys are necessary.”
He said there was concern that there had been “a little bit of complacency setting in”.
“That worries us because we are making real progress in terms of predicting the rate the virus is spreading and we don’t want to lose that,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said the Government will set out a road map about how Ireland will come out of lockdown but said he did not want to speculate about what restrictions would be lifted first.
He said: “What we’re working on is a plan that we will have before the end of April.
“It would indicate how we reopen the country in different steps and the criteria for moving from one step to the next. Until then, I would rather not speculate or fuel expectations.”
Dr Holohan said people should not take it for granted that the restrictions would change on May 5.
“I don’t think it should be a natural assumption on people’s part that automatically things are going to change and automatically things are going to get easier,” he told the daily Covid 19 briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team.
He added: “For now, the message absolutely is no complacency, no taking our foot off the gas, let’s try to do as good a job as we can and drive this infection as low as possible before we get to May 5.
“And we’re hoping to get far enough for us to be able to recommend some changes in the measures that are in place. That’s what our aim is, but we cannot be complacent that we’ll get there.”
Mr Varadkar also said the Government has a plan to sort out childcare for healthcare workers after creches and schools were ordered to shut last month.
He said: “We know that there is a significant demand from healthcare workers to have childcare provided so that they can continue to go to their jobs.
“In some families and households, it has been working because one of the couple is working from home or has lost their job – which is really unfortunate.
Certainly anecdotally and speaking to people, there does seem to have been an increase in traffic and an increase in people out and aboutLeo Varadkar
“We have come across incidents where there are two healthcare workers in the same household and they are struggling to get childcare.
“We have worked up a solution – the money is there to do it.
“But it does require public health clearance from the National Public Health Emergency Team so they are going to discuss it tomorrow.
“I know that it has been very delayed and people are very frustrated about it and there are a lot of contrasting views about it but it needs public health clearance.”
The latest figures from the Department of Social Protection show more than one million people are now either fully or partially dependent on the state for income support.
Some 584,000 people are now receiving the 350 euro weekly Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment introduced in March.
There are also 212,000 on the Live Register receiving standard Jobseekers’ benefit of 203 euro per week.
A total of 46,000 employers have registered for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme to help retain staff in jobs during the pandemic. It is subsidising the pay of 281,200 employees.
When the numbers of people on the Covid Pandemic Payment, Jobseekers and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme are combined they add up to 1,077,200 being helped.