There has been a significant drop in the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19, according to latest figures from the Health Service Executive.
Last night it reported 325 patients, a reduction of 32 cases.
The number of patients in intensive care has also decreased by four to 76.
Meanwhile, the Vaccination Task Force said the campaign is on target to have those aged 70 and older fully vaccinated by mid-May.
It said there is “no drift” in the schedule and those aged 70 and older will have received their first dose by mid-April and their second dose by mid-May.
The task force said that supply chains for this group using mRNA vaccines have become more stable and larger deliveries are expected from this month onward.
It added that full protection is reached seven to 14 days after the second dose, which means this group will have full protection after mid-May.
Up to last Saturday, 176,343 people aged 70 and older had received their first dose and 14,292 had got their second dose of vaccine.
This Group 3 consists of just under half a million people and vaccines are being administered by GPs.
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HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said that swabbing referrals have increased – up by 35% on Monday and 42% yesterday compared to the same days last week.
In a post on Twitter, he said with hospitalisations down there is great hope, “but we need to stay alert to the virus in our community”.
#COVID19 swabbing referrals are up Mon (35%) & Tue (42%) v’s same days last week. Positively, hospitalisations are down to 325 & 76 in ICU. Available vaccinations are protecting those most vulnerable. Great hope but we need to stay alert to the virus in our community. @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) March 24, 2021
Yesterday, the Department of Health reported 24 further Covid-19-related deaths and 371 new cases of the disease.
However, the National Public Health Emergency Team has advised Government that the situation remains particularly fragile and precarious.
NPHET said there had been recent stalling of progress that had been ongoing since the beginning of the year and disease incidence and test positivity have plateaued at a high level in recent days.
It also said that the indicators of population mobility had risen over recent days.
Walk-in PCR Covid testing, without a referral, will be introduced this week in areas around Ireland where coronavirus rates are high.
“The public health strategy is target the virus, suppress the virus, use walk-in PCR testing, deploy antigen testing,” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said.

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