A further eight deaths of people diagnosed with Covid-19 have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). This bring to 1,703 the total number of deaths in the Republic.
NPHET also reported another eight new cases of the disease at its briefing on Thursday. This brings the total number of cases to 25,238.
NPHET discussed the wearing of face-masks at its meeting on Thursday but did not vary its advice, which recommends the optional use of face coverings in circumstances where distancing is a challenge, such as shopping and public transport.
However, officials agreed to begin a communications campaign next week to encourage greater compliance with its advice on face coverings.
Earlier on Thursday, a World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy said face coverings should be mandatory on public transport and were a “proper part” of the overall strategy to fight Covid-19.
Dr David Nabarro told an Oireachtas committee his personal view was that regular face coverings should ideally have multiple layers but there was no need for special material or cloth.
Department of Health officials told a briefing on Thursday that the reproduction number, a measure of how many people a confirmed case went on to infect, now stood at between 0.4 and 0.8.
There are currently 88 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in hospital. Of these, 28 are in intensive care.
An analysis of cases up to Tuesday shows 57 per cent are female and 43 per cent male.
The median age of cases is 48 years and 3,307 (13 per cent) have been hospitalised.
A total of 8,114 cases are associated with healthcare workers.
Meanwhile, the Government confirmed Revenue had made changes to the temporary wage subsidy scheme (TWSS) so that it now included women returning from maternity leave.
Last month, the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) raised concerns that the scheme discriminated against women who were on maternity benefit, while the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission warned the exclusion of these women could be in breach of European law.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Liz Canavan, assistant secretary general of the Department of An Taoiseach, said that the changes to include these women had now been made, making them eligible for the scheme.
“Revenue has also confirmed that the changes in place of the wage subsidy scheme are now in place to accommodate employees who have returned or are due to return to work following a period of maternity leave, adopted leave or related unpaid leave,” Ms Canavan said.
“These changes also apply to employees who were not on their employer’s payroll on the 29th of February, who were on a period of paternity, parental or related unpaid leave, or in receipt of health and safety benefit, parents benefit or illness benefit.”
Employers who wish to access this scheme on behalf of employees covered by these changes can do so by completing a short online form, available for download via Revenue’s online service, Ms Canavan added.
Employers of workers who have been in receipt of the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) may also be eligible for the TWSS, if the employee has been rehired.
“The employee needs to cease their PUP payment claim and the employer can provide relevant information to Revenue,” she said.
Over 60,000 employers are registered with Revenue for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, and more than 527,300 employees have now received at least one payment under the scheme.
However, that figure does not include additional employees who may receive a subsidy as a result of payments generated on Thursday, on which Revenue generated further payments to employers of € 26 million.
These payments will be in the bank accounts of “the majority” of the respective employers tomorrow.
The value of payments made to employers under the scheme now stands at €1.48 billion, Ms Canavan said.