Irish coronavirus reproduction rate falls

FILE PHOTO: A woman chats to her friend while cleaning outside her home practicing social distancing following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dublin, Ireland, May 24, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

DUBLIN (Reuters) – The average number of people in Ireland infected by someone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus has fallen to 0.4 to 0.5 in the first set of data taking account of a gradual easing of restrictions, Health Minister Simon Harris said on Wednesday.

That marked a narrowing in the so-called “reproduction rate” from 0.4 to 0.6 a week ago. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Wednesday the government may decide next week to speed up the reopening of its economy if the number of infections remains at a low level.

“It suggests a stable transition where we have kept this virus under control while moving to the first phase of our reopening,” Harris told parliament.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson