A FURTHER 17 patients diagnosed with coronavirus in Ireland have died.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has announced a further 331 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 4,604 in Ireland.
Of the 17 deaths recorded, 15 were located in the east, 1 in the south and 1 in the west of the country.
The patients included 4 women and 13 men. 13 of the patients were reported as having underlying health conditions.
The median age of today's reported deaths is 77.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "The nationwide, collective effort to limit the spread of Covid-19 has been inspiring. We must keep up this effort, continue to protect the vulnerable in our society and ultimately flatten the curve."
Globally, more than 60,000 people have now died from coronavirus.
More than 1.1 million have contracted the virus worldwide, according to the latest figures.
Here in Ireland, Minister for Health Simon Harris announced a €72 million package of measures to help nursing homes tackle the outbreak.
He has introduced a number of new measures for nursing homes, including twice-daily staff screening measures while COVID-19 testing will be prioritised for nursing home staff.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) is to provide access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and further training.
Movement between residential facilities by staff is to be minimised and the HSE have said they will support staff with alternative accommodation and transport, if necessary.
In a statement, the Department of Health said this scheme will "support the critical services provided by nursing homes."
Speaking today, Minister Harris said: “The nursing home sector cares for one of the most precious, and vulnerable groups in our society.
"We must do everything we can to support them to help break the transmission of the virus.
“To this end, we are extending supports to this sector so that they can continue their role in the overall public health response to COVID-19.
"Our goal, in these challenging times, is to protect our older people, wherever they are living."
Almost 1,000 healthcare workers in the Republic have now tested positive for Covid 19.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, says healthcare staff account for a quarter of cases but the majority did not pick it up while at work.
"Only about a quarter of them have picked up that infection we think in the course of work.
"For 50% of them, it is community transmission that explains it, in other words, there isn't an identifiable link that is associated with their healthcare environment, we think it is picked up outside.
"About a quarter of the again associated with travel," he said.
Meanwhile, doctors fighting the pandemic are demanding a clear timeline as to when those on the frontlines will no longer be put at risk from the use of substandard personal protective equipment (PPE).