DUBLIN (Reuters) – The number of people in Ireland infected by someone who has tested positive for the new coronavirus stands at 0.4 to 0.6 ahead of the planned gradual reopening of the economy next week, Health Minister Simon Harris said on Thursday.

That marked a narrowing in the estimated range of the so-called “reproduction rate” from 0.3 to 0.8 a week ago and is “a remarkably stable number that has now been below 1 for a number of weeks”, Harris told parliament.

The number of hospital admissions of patients suffering from COVID-19, the disease the virus causes, has also fallen again to 15 per day this week from 20 per day a week ago and around 100 per day at the start of April when Ireland feared its hospitals would be overwhelmed, Harris said.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson)