Keep informed of these unprecedented times with the latest coronavirus updates on Independent.ie's live blog.
Two healthcare workers at the same hospital have died of suspected coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
The hospital staff, one male and one female, were both middle aged and were working until they became ill.
Staff at the hospital are understood to be shocked at the deaths.
The woman, aged in her 50s, was a member of the household staff and the man, in his 40s, was a health care assistant.
They both had children.
The HSE is aware of the deaths.
The deceased are believed to be the second and third cases of health service workers dying of Covid-19.
The number of people who died from coronavirus infection in France jumped by 1,438 or 9.1pc to 17,167 in the biggest single-day increase as a number of nursing homes reported cumulative tolls following the three-day Easter weekend, the health ministry said on Wednesday.
The number of people who died in hospitals rose by 514 or 5pc to 10,643, less than the 541 reported on Tuesday, but the cumulative death toll in nursing homes rose by 924 or 17pc to 6,524, compared with 221 on Tuesday.
"This increase is not the mortality rate over 24 hours but is due to a catch-up in reporting of data following the three-day weekend," Health Ministry Director Jerome Salomon said.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic is still highly active and called on French people to strictly respect confinement measures.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone announced a wage subsidy scheme for childcare workers today, which will see them earn up to €586 a week during Covid-19 lockdown
The bespoke subsidy system for the sector was expected last week, leading to fears that people employed in the sector would go unpaid for the totality of the Covid-19 lockdown, but Ms Zappone sent a letter to childcare providers today.
According to the letter sent by Ms Zappone, payments will be received on Apri 24,l for anyone who has signed up by close of business next Tuesday, April 21.
Payments can be backdated to April 6.
Under the Funding Agreement for the new administrative scheme, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) will make a payment to the childcare service which will equate to the Maximum additional payment the childcare service can make to an eligible employee under the Covid-19 Temporary Wage.
Germany plans to let small shops reopen as early as next week after a four-week coronavirus shutdown.
But Europe’s biggest economy is keeping strict social distancing rules in place.
After much-anticipated talks with Germany’s 16 state governors, Chancellor Angela Merkel set out a plan for the first steps of a slow restart of public life.
A ban on gatherings of more than two people in public has been in place since March 23 and was due to run until Sunday.
Ms Merkel says the restrictions will remain in place, and officials will review at the end of the month what happens after May 3.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been informed that 38 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ireland have died.
There have now been 444 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.
As of 1pm today, the HPSC has been notified of the following cases:
Dr Tony Holohan has confirmed that 657 new Covid-19 cases in Ireland and an additional 411 cases reported by a laboratory in Germany bringing the total number of new cases in the Republic of Ireland to 832.
In total in the Republic, 12,547 have now tested positive for the virus.
A further 38 patients in Ireland have died after contracting the coronavirus.
It brings the total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 here to 444.
In total on the island of Ireland there have now been 14,635 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 584 people have sadly died as a result.
The European Union has moved to head off a chaotic and potentially disastrous easing of restrictions that are limiting the spread of coronavirus, warning its 27 nations to move cautiously as they return to normal life, and to base their actions on scientific advice.
With Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark already lifting some lockdown measures, the European Commission rushed out its road map for members of the world’s biggest trade bloc to co-ordinate an exit from the lockdowns, which they expect should take at least a few months and involve large-scale testing.
About 80,000 people have died in Europe from Covid-19 — two-thirds of the global toll — according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The commission said those scientists should be relied upon to guide national exit strategies in the weeks and months to come.
A further six patients in Northern Ireland have died in hospital after contracting coronavirus.
It brings the total number of confirmed deaths in the area to 140.
The Public Health Agency said a further 121 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
This brings the total number of cases to 2,088.
So far 13,672 people have been tested for Covid-19.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport have agreed a further extension of the temporary derogation from certain provisions of the EU driving and resting time rules.
The prolongation of this temporary derogation is being made in view of the potential ongoing impact of the COVID-19 crisis on HGV operations, the importance of ensuring continuity of supply chains; and in response to requests from the haulage industry.
This extension includes additional measures, which will apply from 17 April to 31 May 2020. The derogation will apply to all operators and drivers subject to the EU driver’s hours and tachograph rules engaged in the carriage of all goods - including oil supplies - and will continue to be reviewed by the RSA during this time.
It includes provisions for fortnightly driving time, extra reduced daily rest periods, weekly rest requirements, regular weekly rest in the cabin. Details of the derogation are outlined further, on their website.
TEN thousand people who have been medically certified for the €350-per-week enhanced illness benefit have yet to receive the payment because they haven't submitted applications.
The payment is available to people who are off sick from work due to falling ill from coronavirus or who have been told to self isolate by a doctor if they have a suspected case.
A total of 27,300 people have been medically certified to meet the conditions for the receipt of the COVID-19 enhanced illness benefit payment, according to senior government official Liz Canavan.
PARENTS have been seeking refunds for rural school transport fees in light of the closure of schools due to the coronavirus crisis.
The government said the matter is under review after it received some requests for families to get some of their money back while classrooms are shut down and buses are off the road.
There is a single charge of €350-per pupil for secondary school students up to a maximum of €650 for a family and €100-per pupil in primary school up to a maximum of €220 for a family.
Pupils whose families hold a medical card are entitled to travel for free.
As some European countries take their first provisional steps out of lockdown, member states have come into conflict with the European Commission.
Following a video conference with EU leaders on March 26, Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said the bloc needed to operate in a coordinated exit from lockdown.
She said failing to do so would "undermine the effectiveness of the tough measures we took".
Former Ireland captain Robbie Keane and his wife Claudine have set up a fundraiser aiming to raise €20,000 for Ireland’s hospitals.
The couple are raising money as part of The Mater Foundation’s Our Hospital Heroes Appeal to protect healthcare staff who are likely to contract the coronavirus themselves.
They have raised over €12,000 in just two days.
Writing on the GoFundMe fundraiser, Robbie and Claudine opened up about how the virus hit close to home recently.
Nearly €1m worth of donations has provided over 55,000 meals for frontline staff from a non-profit organisation.
The 'Feed the Heroes' campaign has raised €933,000 over the last four weeks through 15,000 donors and delivered 55,000 meals to healthcare staff nationwide.
The meals have been delivered daily to community test sites, contact tracing sites, hospitals and emergency services nationwide.
15pc of the meals have been to staff in ICU and High Dependency Units and another 15pc were delivered to emergency responders such as paramedics.
BOATING, kayaking and fishing has been banned in Killarney National Park as part of the coronavirus restrictions.
A senior government official said the measure has been taken so that additional pressure isn't put on the emergency services.
Department of the Taoiseach Assistant Secretary Liz Canavan said that insofar as possible national parks and nature reserves remain open and accessible to people that live locally.
She said most people are complying with the "vital public health guidelines around social distancing" and staying within two kilometres of their homes.
PUBLIC health workers are set to be redeployed to private nursing homes in an effort to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
Unions for health staff and the HSE have signed off on a deal in which those employed in the public health service will put their names forward and a volunteers register set up.
Volunteers will come from nursing, health care assistant, cleaning, chef and catering assistant roles.
However, management at the residential homes will have to have exhausted all avenues to recruit staff before they can use the scheme.
“Our members want to help deal with the increasing clusters of the virus among the most vulnerable service users in the nursing home sector in their catchment area,” said Siptu Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell.
Passenger numbers are down by 90pc across public transport as An Garda Siochana have confirmed that they are monitoring all forms of transport to ensure only essential travel is taking place.
Buses, trains and trams are operating at 80pc capacity as part of lockdown measures and now gardaí are enforcing essential travel across all modes of transport.
According to the National Transport Authority, passenger numbers on subsidised public transport, including Dublin Bus, Bus Eireann, Go-Ahead Ireland, Iarnród Éireann and Luas are down by an average of approximately 90pc.
Gardaí have also began monitoring all forms of transport to ensure only essential travel is taking place as per department of health guidelines
Countries that ease restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus should wait at least two weeks to evaluate the impact of such changes before easing again, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.
In its latest Strategy Update, the UN agency said that the world stands at a "pivotal juncture" in the pandemic and that "speed, scale, and equity must be our guiding principles" when deciding what measures are necessary.
Every country should implement comprehensive public health measures to maintain a sustainable steady state of low-level or no transmission and prepare its surge capacity to react rapidly to control any spread, the WHO said.
Quad bikers in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains have been branded as “reckless” amid reports of bikes damaging the landscape in recent days.
The Department of Culture has stated that quad biking remains an “illegal activity” which is also “extremely damaging to the fragile landscapes” of the mountains.
Groups of people have been observed biking in the area in recent days, with some reportedly having broken the 2km radius travel limit, with speed of the bikes “causing concern” for local residents.
Fears have also been raised that the bikes may damage the environment and wildlife of the mountains.
Daily government update on COVID-19 from Liz Canavan, a spokesperson for the Department of the Taoiseach:
Q: The debate over whether people should wear face masks in public during the Covid-19 crisis has reignited. Why is it back on the agenda?
A: It follows remarks by Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 envoy, who has said people should get accustomed to a new reality of always wearing a facial covering.
Q: Is he talking about after some lockdown restrictions have been eased?
A: His idea is that if hairdressing salons, for instance, are allowed reopen they would be useful. Ireland will face dilemmas on how far restrictive measures should be relaxed after May 5. So it's worth discussing any suggestions that might make things easier and safer.
Deaths linked to coronavirus in Northern Ireland could be up to 65pc higher than was thought.
An additional 31 deaths in Northern Ireland that were associated with Covid-19 occurred in a 16-day period that were not initially included in official figures.
By April 3, there were 79 deaths here, well above the tally of 48 announced at the time.
The discrepancy emerged after the official figures were compared with more complete data held by Northern Ireland's official statistics agency.
It comes amid growing concerns of a significant underestimate in the number of fatalities.
Tweeting this morning, Health Minister Simon Harris has said it was a number "to give us hope".
"A number to give us hope this morning -77. The number of people with #Covid19 who have now been discharged from ICU," he wrote.
"77 lives recovering thanks to the amazing dedication of our health professionals. 77 families relieved. 77 reasons to motivate us & encourage us to stay the course."
A number to give us hope this morning -77. The number of people with #Covid19 who have now been discharged from ICU. 77 lives recovering thanks to the amazing dedication of our health professionals. 77 families relieved. 77 reasons to motivate us & encourage us to stay the course— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) April 15, 2020
US President Donald Trump said last night he has instructed his administration to at least temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Trump said the WHO had "failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable." He said the group had promoted China's "disinformation" about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak of the virus than otherwise would have occurred. But the president says the US will continue to engage with the organisation in pursuit of what he calls meaningful reforms.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump's May 1 target for restarting the US economy is "overly optimistic", his top infectious disease adviser said yesterday, after Mr Trump and state governors clashed over who has the power to lift restrictions aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic.
Any loosening of lockdown measures will "unavoidably" lead to an increase in coronavirus infections, the European Commission will say today as it warns that governments "will have to live with" the virus until a vaccine is found.
The caution comes as several member states, including Italy and Spain, begin to ease lockdown restrictions, despite other governments extending quarantine measures for at least another month.
A leaked version of an EU-wide exit strategy, obtained by 'The Daily Telegraph' and to be launched by the president of the commission today, says: "Even though the way back to normality will be very long, it is also clear that the extraordinary confinement measures cannot last indefinitely.
"At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the virus continues circulating, and any level of relaxation of the confinement will unavoidably lead to a corresponding increase in new cases.