COVID-19 LATEST: 21 more die as 390 new cases confirmed, Taoiseach registers to join frontline health workers
Twenty-one more people have died after contracting the coronavirus as 390 new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic were confirmed this evening.
It brings to 158 the overall death toll in the country. The number of confirmed cases in the republic now stands at 4,994.
There has been seven more Covid-19 deaths in the North, bringing the total number of fatalities across the border to 63.
The seven deaths are among a total of 621 Covid-19 deaths in the UK over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll there to 4,934.
In other Covid-19 related developments today, it emerged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has re-registered as a medical practitioner and will work one shift a week to help out during the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Varadkar worked as a doctor for seven years before leaving the profession to become a politician and was removed from the medical register in 2013.
Meanwhile, Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Paul Reid earlier said Irish laboratories will have the capacity to carry out 4,500 Covid-19 tests from the end of next week.
He said labs had only been carrying out between 2,000 and 2,500 tests, but that late last week testing had been constrained to 1,500 tests per day.
Mr Reid was speaking as it emerged that a significant amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) purchased from a Chinese supplier is not suitable for use.
The HSE boss said 65% of the PPE that arrived in Ireland from China last week does meet the required specification for use here.
Mr Reid said the first batch that arrived in the country is just 10% of the overall order. Of this, he said the PPE has been divided into three categories.
The first category includes coveralls, gowns, goggles and face-shields that have been identified as suitable for use, accounting for 65% of the total order. A further 15% of the order has been classified as “acceptable for healthcare worker use if the preferred product is not available”.