FOURTEEN more people have died from the coronavirus in Ireland, taking the country’s death toll to 36, the National Public Health Emergency Team has announced.
All 14 deaths are located in the east of the country. The median age of today’s reported deaths is 81.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has also been informed of 294 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
There are now 2,415 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said that the country has today witnessed the highest jump in deaths so far.
"Our condolences are with the family and friends of all patients who have died as a result of COVID-19.
“We thank all citizens who have complied with restrictive measures, who continue to follow public health advice and remain concerned for those around them.
“We must remain focused in our shared efforts to prevent the spread of this infection, to prevent severe illness especially that which requires ICU admission and ultimately save lives.”
Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “The Department of Health, HSE and our frontline workers will continue to take every action against COVID-19, but it is each and every one of us, individually, who has the power to reduce this threat. Stay at home, follow the advice and protect one another.”
The latest figures show 26pc of cases (489) have been hospitalised for treatment. Of these, 67 have been admitted to ICU. Almost one in every five positive tests (445 cases) is linked to a healthcare worker.
Dublin has 1,070 people with coronavirus and represents 56pc of all positive cases. Cork accounts for 184 cases.
In more than half of positive tests (52pc) it cannot be determined how the person contracted the virus.
Travel from abroad account for a quarter of cases. Close contact with another case of Covid-19 accounts for 23pc of all known cases.
Earlier today, construction workers were among the latest group advised to stay home by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).
"The CIF is calling on its members should secure construction sites immediately. We recommend that members sending teams to secure sites should call ahead to gardaí to inform them," a statement from the group reads.
"The CIF will continue to engage with government and the HSE to explore ways the industry can contribute."
Workers will be required to show identification and outline a brief work description when stopped at roadsides by gardaí during the current lockdown period.
According to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, gardaí will be stopping people to ensure their journeys are essential until April 12.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross and the RSA have confirmed that the National Driver Licence Service (NDLS), the National Car Testing Service (NCT), as well as the Commercial Vehicle Testing System are suspended until further notice with immediate effect.
Minister Ross has asked his officials together with the RSA to introduce measures to address the implications of suspending these services.
“I have asked my officials to immediately engage with the RSA to introduce measures that will address issues arising from the suspension of these services. It is critical that we give drivers as well as operators of commercial vehicles peace of mind in relation to the status of their licence, learner permit, NCT certificate or certificate of roadworthiness, especially if it has expired or is likely to expire during the period of the Covid19 health crisis," Mr Ross said.
"Specifically, I am looking at introducing measures that will extend the period of validity of these official documents and hope to provide further detail for the public next week.
"In the meantime, I want to make it absolutely clear that people should not and do not need to worry about these things. Everyone must now focus on abiding by the measures that were introduced by the Government from midnight last night in order to keep yourself, your family and your community safe from the spread of the coronavirus.
"At the same time, we must also be conscious of the need to save lives on the roads and, indeed, avoid diverting medical staff to deal with the consequences of drivers not driving safely. Road Safety laws remain in force and will be enforced. Drivers must not speed or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and they must keep their vehicles roadworthy – for their own sakes and all our sakes. ”
Earlier on Saturday, Health Minister Simon Harris said “there is a special place in hell” for people price gouging and profiteering from the coronavirus crisis.
Harris said there is a “health rationale” for the restrictions on movement introduced to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The minister appealed to the public to adhere to the public health measures only allowing people to leave their homes to buy food, medicines or to take in brief exercise within 2km of where they live.
When asked about reports of price hikes to essential medical equipment such as ventilators to treat Covid-19, the minister reacted angrily.
“I think the European Commission and Ireland will have to keep a very close eye on that,” he said.
"Anybody who seeks to extort additional money out of people, there is a special place in hell for them. In the middle of a global pandemic, when we are trying to keep our people alive and breathing, anybody who sees this as an opportunity to make a quick buck, not in an innovative sense but in an exploitative sense, we’ll remember them. We will all remember them in this country.
“We are going to support the people in this country when it gets back on its feet who are good to our country and put public health first. The responsible business owners, the responsible business owners, the decent people who said ‘this is going to be very tough for my business, this is going to put us under pressure but the health of my workforce and fellow people in this country matters more than that.”