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Coronavirus Ireland: 54 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed and up to 15,000 expected by end of March

  • 223 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the Republic

  • 15,000 coronavirus cases expected to be diagnosed in Ireland by end of the month

  • Health system to launch massive recruitment campaign tomorrow
  • Emergency legislation to be introduced to 'detain and isolate people who have Covid-19 and do not submit to self-isolation'

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A nurse demonstrates the Covid-19 testing pod in Antrim

A nurse demonstrates the Covid-19 testing pod in Antrim

PA

Tanaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD during a press briefing in the Courtyard of Government Buildings, Dublin Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Tanaiste & Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD during a press briefing in the Courtyard of Government Buildings, Dublin Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

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A nurse demonstrates the Covid-19 testing pod in Antrim

54 new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Ireland, it was confirmed this evening.

In total 223 people in the Republic have tested positive for Covid-19 and more are expected.

The newly-diagnosed cases consist of 30 men and 24 women.

41 are associated with the east of the country, 11 in the south and two are in the north/west of the country.

So far two people have died from coronavirus in Ireland.

This comes as Irish citizens are being urged not to travel abroad before March 29, including to England.

The request to stop non-essential travel does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has revealed that all people coming into Ireland will also be asked to limit their social contacts for two weeks.

Mr Coveney also warned there will be “enormous disruption” to air travel in the coming days across European and said he could not guarantee when people would be able to return home.

“Non-essential travel effectively means people who are choosing to go overseas and don’t need to, they shouldn’t be doing it. That is now our clear health advice and also travel advice,” he said.

“We can’t be sure they can get back,” he added.

Mr Coveney also said he has been told by airlines across Europe that they will be grounding their fleets in the coming days.

“We are also seeing other EU countries closing borders, closing airports and not facilitating air transport in and out,” he said.

“Non-essential travel shouldn’t be happening to and from this island,” he added.

The Tanaiste said the Government will ensure “key supply chains” which bring goods into Ireland will be maintained.

Those supply chains are important and we need to maintain them and we regard that as essential travel,” he added.

This comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that the number of new cases of coronavirus will jump by 30pc per day.

The Taoiseach said predictions that half the population will get Covid-19 “is accurate”, adding the final number could be “perhaps millions”.

“By the end of the month there will be maybe 15,000 people diagnosed with Covid-19,” he said.

He said the virus cannot be stopped but the Government wants to slow the spread over the next few months.

“The number of people who have Covid-19 will continue to rise everyday for the next few weeks.

“The total number of cases will be very, very high. The objective is not to do the impossible which is to stop that but to spread it out over a period of time,” Mr Varadkar said.

Emergency legislation is to be introduced later this week to prohibit mass gatherings and “to detain and isolate people who have Covid-19 and do not submit to self-isolation”.

The Dáil will also be asked to pass new laws to allow for special illness benefits for people who have to take time off work due to the coronavirus.

“It’s inevitable, it cannot be stopped. The numbers will rise every days in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr Varadkar said the forecast that half the population could be affected could materialise.

He said by the end of the month 15,000 people could have have tested positive for the virus but most will not be badly affected.

The hope is that it will then start to plateau as as the effects of the current restrictions kick in.

It will rise before it levels off, he added.

Health Minister Simon Harris said a massive recruitment campaign will be launched tomorrow.

“Your country needs you,” he said.

Mr Harris said we need a whole of society effort and the crisis cannot be wished away.

The HSE has purchased hundreds more ventilators and will buy more to cope with the surge in seriously ill patients who need breathing support.

But there are no guarantees the demand will exceed the availability of ventilators .

The Ministers were speaking at Government buildings after a meeting of the special sub committee overseeing the virus.

The ministers said if people travel abroad they may not be able to get back.

Social welfare income supports will be available for people who lost their jobs and employers.

Today, the World Health Organisation called on all countries to test every suspected case of COVID-19.

There are now five hospital sites around the country (in addition to the NVRL) providing testing. This number will increase over the coming week, additional laboratory capacity will be accessed as required.

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE said: “We are working closely with ICGP to manage the rapid increase in requests for testing.

“If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, self isolate and phone your GP, who will assess your need for a test.

“We ask people to be patient as we increase the number of staff and testing centres to accommodate the increase requirement for testing.”

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “The behaviours we adopt in the next seven days will form the template for how we interrupt the spread of this virus over the coming months.

“We need to sustain social distancing, respiratory hygiene and these new ways of behaving if we are to succeed in minimising the threat posed by COVID-19.”

Research published today by Amárach has shown that 84pc of the population know the symptoms of COVID-19, more than three quarters (78pc) are staying at home more often and 45pc of all employees have started working from home.

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “These findings are very positive and demonstrate the efforts that so many people across society are making to protect our communities.

“The challenge now is build on and sustain this momentum over the coming weeks.”

More to follow...

Online Editors


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