Coronavirus: 20 New Cases Confirmed

The HSE's looking at ways to dramatically increase bed capacity.

10.00pm

The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising people to exercise "high degree of caution" in going to any EU member state.

Minister Simon Coveney says there are rapidly changing conditions and they will continue to update advice.

9.29pm:

President Michael D Higgins says people's generosity and compassion will be needed to help those at risk from the coronavirus.

In his St. Patrick's Day message, he says the values of our patron saint are more relevant than ever:


The National Public Health Emergency Team says anyone returning from Spain or Italy will have to restrict their movements for the next two weeks. 

This includes not going to work and limiting social interactions for a fortnight. 

Health Minister Simon Harris says health workers will meet those returning in the airport:

8.03pm:

People bulk buying during the Coronavirus outbreak are "wasting their money".

That's according to the Business Minister, who earlier held talks with 40 grocery retailers and distributors.

They say people stockpiling are creating unnecessary problems for stores, with shoppers panic-buying and disrupting supply chains.

Minister Heather Humphreys says there's no need for bulk buying:

6.30pm:

Many airlines are allowing customers to change their flights without paying extra fees.

Instead, anyone who changes will have to pay the fare difference, if there is one.

Anyone who booked an Aer Lingus flight before March 6th for March, April and May will be able to change.

MD of the Travel Brokers, Clare Dunne, says the industry is appears to be working together to minimise the impact:

The Irish Prison Service is in discussion with the Department of Justice to reduce the number of people in custody.

They say no prisoner would be given early release who poses a risk to public safety.

It announced measures earlier this week to limit the number of visits to the country's prisons.

6.16pm:

About 325 Garda students are joining the force early next week to deal with coronavirus. 

Jim Mulligan, the president of the Garda Representative Association, is seeking assurances for their health and safety. 
 

6.01pm:

20 new cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the Republic, bringing the number of infections to 90. 

· 6 cases are associated with travel

· 12 are associated with contacts of confirmed case; 4 of which are healthcare workers

· 2 cases are associated with community transmission

There has been one confirmed death of COVID-19 in Ireland.

There are now 90 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

The HSE is now working to identify any contacts the patients may have had, to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.

The National Public Health Emergency Team met last night (Thursday 12 March) to review Ireland’s response to COVID-19 preparedness. The following decisions were made;

· Case Definition Updated: Symptoms of new onset fever of 38 degrees or more, or chills and/or symptoms of respiratory tract infections including cough will be considered when assessing the requirement for testing.

· All people returning from areas identified on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website for avoidance of non-essential travel, should restrict their movements for 14 days.

· Discharge criteria for self-isolating confirmed cases, as recommended by the Expert Advisory Group, has been approved for implementation.

· EAG will consider travel restrictions for healthcare workers

Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said;

“The National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor the ongoing threat of this virus and will take actions where necessary.

“For people returning from areas affected by COVID-19, we strongly encourage the individual to restrict their movements."

The National Public Health Emergency Team recommended new measures this week in response to the change in Ireland’s evolving experience with COVID-19 and in consideration of medical guidance from the ECDC and the WHO. One of these measures was to recommend the closure of schools until March 29th, pending further review.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “We appreciate these measures have a significant impact on the daily lives of families. However, they are necessary for the public good.

“Parents should try and avoid arranging play dates for groups of young children at this early stage of the outbreak.

“However, rather than staying indoors, consider outdoor activities such as playing football in the open in small groups of 3 or 4 while maintaining social distancing of 2 metres.

“This is a time to be mindful of the public health guidelines and apply these measures to your daily lives.”

5.57pm:

The Garda training college and student accommodation could be turned into care centres to deal with coronavirus. 

But Siptu's Paul Bell says that would be far from ideal:

5.42pm:

The Finance Minister says coronavirus is already having an impact on the Irish economy. 

Paschal Donohoe's warning the economic effects are under way and it's critical vulnerable companies have support to work through the crisis. 

Small businesses who can't pay VAT won't face interest payments, under new changes announced. 

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases, which stands at 70, will be updated by the Department of Health shortly.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says the virus is already affecting small companies:


Meanwhile, Disney and Universal Studios are closing their theme parks around the world from tomorrow because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

They'll remain shut until the end of the month - as production's suspended on several films. 

Experts are predicting almost 4 billion pounds could be wiped off the global box office because of the virus.

5.04pm:

Kissing the Blarney Stone has been postponed for the first time ever.

Nearly half a million tourists visit the Co. Cork attraction every year.

The Blarney Castle and Gardens will still be open.

4.54pm:

The Minister for Tourism is suggesting the VAT rate on accommodation and food services be slashed to Zero per cent until the coronavirus crisis passes.

The current VAT rate for the hospitality sector is at 13 per cent, with many businesses now calling for a reduction to assist as revenues suffer due to cancellations.

Minister Shane Ross has asked the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to consider scrapping the tax temporarily.

He has suggested it be increased to 9 per cent for 12 months after the Covid-19 outbreak passes.

4.23pm:

The Mater Hospital is cancelling all elective orthopedic and spinal services at the hospital from  Monday March 16. 

This means that all elective orthopedic outpatient appointments are cancelled until further notice. Patients whose appointments are being deferred are being contacted by phone.

The Hospital will also be moving all fracture clinics to the Mater Smithfield Rapid Injury Clinic starting from next Wednesday March 18

4.31pm:

The Revenue Commissioners are bringing in rule changes for small and medium businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

They won’t apply interest on late VAT returns for January and February for companies experiencing temporary cash flow problems. 

All debt enforcement activity is being suspended, and current tax clearance status will remain in place for businesses for the time being. 

Revenue says firms experiencing cash flow difficulties should still send in tax returns on time. 

3.24pm:

The Government is quashing social media rumours the country's being placed on a so-called "Status Red" lockdown from Monday. 

The Defence Forces says there's no substance to them, and misinformation is unhelpful during the coronavirus outbreak.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe says there are no such plans: 

2.58pm:

People returning from Cheltenham won't have to self-isolate, but will be met by health workers at the airport. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team says anyone returning from Spain or Italy will have to restrict their movements for the next two weeks.

But Health Minister Simon Harris says those restrictions don't apply for people coming home from Cheltenham:


1pm:

The HSE has confirmed it's in talks with hotels to identify additional beds to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. 

So far there's been 70 confirmed cases of COVID19 in the Republic, while one person has died. 

The HSE wouldn't be drawn on how many beds it's hoping to secure in preparation for widespread community transmission. 

But CEO Paul Reid has confirmed that they are in talks with hotels that could be used as isolation units. 

The HSE has written to all staff have retired in the last four years asking if they would be willing to come back at this critical time. 

Clinical Operations Officer Anne O'Conner says all staff who can be redeployed have been. 

The HSE has also made an appeal to corporate employers to allow staff with children to work at home, so that if their spouses work in the health system, they can continue to go to work. 

Meanwhile, Government Ministers have been meeting business owners and groups who could be worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senior Cabinet members are to give a further briefing on their efforts to deal with Covid-19 this afternoon.

Ministers have spent the morning meeting key people in the areas they represent to update them on coronavirus. 

Business Minister Heather Humphreys has been holding meetings and phone conferences with all grocery retailers and distributors, who've again assured her there is a sufficient food supply chain in place and people panic buying are not helping them. 

She's also met with banks and employers groups. 

Agriculture Minister Micheal Creed has spoken by telephone with all the main farming leaders, while Culture Minister Josepha Madigan brought in all national cultural institutions and theatre representatives. 

Many of them, which have been forced to close for two weeks, expressed concerns over the impact the measures will have on them. 

Ministers Paschal Donohoe, Heather Humphreys and Shane Ross are to give a further update on coronavirus to the media this afternoon. 

The country's banks are taking steps to help customers through the Coronavirus crisis.

The Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland says they've been working together to put supports in place for them.

Its Chief Executive, Brian Hayes has this advice:

The HSE has clarified its position on play dates over the next two weeks.  

Parents are being advised to limit the number of children involved in play dates and to make sure they're not displaying any symptoms.

Thousands of children are home from school, while creches and colleges are also closed.

There had been some confusion around play dates while schools and creches are closed.

Around 900 thousand school children in almost 4 thousand schools are to stay at home for the next two weeks, while thousands more children and toddlers are off creche.

Dr Sarah Doyle from the HSE says play dates are OK but only a small number of children should be involved:

Parents all over the country are working from home while trying to keep children busy and active.

Parenting Expert from BabyDoc club Laura Urskin says parents should try and limit screen time:

People are being reminded to use their common sense, practice social distancing and continue washing their hands. 

12.30pm:

The Garda Commissioner says he doesn't expect people to start looting supermarkets in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Patrols are going to be increased across the country following scenes of shoppers panic buying.

Long queues and empty shelves have been a common sight at supermarkets across the country since yesterday:

Gardai are now planning to increase community patrols and are monitoring the situation at shops.

Commissioner Drew Harris doesn't think it'll turn to looting.

Gardai have announced over 320 Garda students will be called up to the force to help its Covid 19 response.

There's also going to be restrictions on annual leave and officers due to retire soon will be offered the chance to stay on for another year.

Large gatherings will also be restricted - but the Commissioner doesn't expect that to lead to arrests.

The Defence Forces have also been briefed on plans for the next few weeks, and say they're ready to assist civil authorities if that's required.

 

10.59am

Gardaí are to increase patrols at supermarkets as shoppers continue to panic buy.

Over 320 garda students are being called up to the force help deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

210 extra vehicles are also being hired and any officers due to retire in April will be offered the chance to stay on for another three months.

Gardaí say they're also going to be restricting large gatherings 

Commissioner Drew Harris says despite scenes of panic buying yesterday, they don't think that'll turn to looting:

10.56am:

Anyone returning from Spain or Italy will have to restrict their movements for the next two weeks, including not going to work and reducing their social interactions. 

The decision's been made by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Environmental health workers will meet those returning at the airport to tell them of the restrictions, while people coming back from Cheltenham won't have to self-isolate, but will be met by health staff. 

Yesterday saw 27 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic,  bringing the total to 70. 

Health Minister Simon Harris says the new measures for those returning make sense: 

10.23am

The HSE's been working with technology firms and university researchers to work on solutions to sanitise hospitals dealing with Covid-19.

Researchers at Trinity College had been looking for the past year on UV killing of bacteria or viruses.

Martin Curley - HSE head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation says they're keen to see the findings in operation:

9.56am:

It could be months before it is known whether the measures introduced by the government are effective, according to a leading expert.

Professor Anthony Staines from the School of Nursing at DCU says brave decisions have been taken:


9.08am:

The HSE's looking at ways to dramatically increase bed capacity in order to deal with the expected rise in the number of cases of Covid-19.

A range of options are being considered as part of contingency planning for the escalating health crisis.

Yesterday saw the largest daily increase in the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the republic.

27 new cases brought the total to 70.

Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer of HSE says the organisation needs to plan for every possible eventuality:

6.58am:

The government is trying to find a way to provide childcare for health service workers as services close today for more than two weeks.

Schools, colleges and childcare services have been shut by the government and people encouraged to work at home if possible due to the Coronavirus.

However, healthcare workers now have to find a way of minding their children and coming into work.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says they haven't yet found the solution:


Thousands of people are working from home today as schools, colleges and creches remain closed. 

70 people have now been infected with the coronavirus in Ireland, and one person has died.

Sam McConkey, Infectious disease specialist with the RCSI, says further measures around closing airports could be considered.

The HSE's Dr. Siobhan Kennelly is asking people to consider the elderly in their community over the coming weeks. 

The Garda Commissioner is expected to announce an unprecedented measure this morning.

Student Gardaí will not finish their training and instead become qualified Gardaí immediately as part of the coronavirus policing plan. 

Workers shouldn't be looking to their parents for help with childminding while schools and creches close from today.

The Department of Health says people over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of getting coronavirus.

Yesterday the government announced that all schools, colleges, universities and creches will be shut until March 29th at the earliest in an effort to stem the spead of covid-19.

70 people in Ireland have been diagnosed with the deadly virus- 6 of them are currently in intensive care units.

Assistant Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says this will have a massive impact on workers and families, but if possible grandparents shouldn't assume childminding responsibilties.

 

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