Coronavirus: Three More Patients Have Died

Latest news updates for 27th March 2020

21.47- Restrictions: 

The Taoiseach has announced that everybody must stay at home for a two week period until Easter Sunday in an effort to stop the spread of Covid 19.

The measures are to come into effect from midnight tonight.

Leo Varadkar said that transmission within the community now accounts for more than half of all 2,121 confirmed cases here; and there is an increasing number of clusters of infections around the country.

He also confirmed that a healthcare worker is one of the 22 fatalities. 
 

20.10 - HSE:

The HSE's warning ICU beds could fill up quickly as the country battles Covid 19.

COO of the Health Service Executive, Anne O Connor says the priority is to grow the number of critical care beds at hospitals around the country.

20.05 - Italy:

Italy has become the second country to overtake China in the total number of people who have coronavirus.

Around 86-and-a-half-thousand patients across the country have tested positive for Covid-19.

More than 9-thousand have died. 

The US has the most diagnoses - at around 97-thousand.

19.45 - Briefing:

The Government is to give an update later this hour on the State's response to Covid-19. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan are convening a special news conference. 

The briefing begins at 8.30pm. 

19.30 - Wages: 

More than 12,650 companies have signed up the the government's covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.

The initiative aims to support companies to retain workers and to re-employ those who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business Minister Heather Humphreys is urging employers to avail of the scheme, but ensure their bank details are correct when applying.

Over 427,000 euro worth of support cannot transfer to 260 companies because of incorrect bank details.

19.15 - Transport:

The National Transport Authority insists social distancing will be maintained on trains and buses, despite a planned reduction in services.

Irish Rail will operate to a revised schedule from Monday while  Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland and Bus Éireann, will have a new schedule from Wednesday.

Overall 80 per cent of services will still run.

It's part of measures to reduce the spread of Covid 19 and take account of the reduction in the number of people using public transport.

CEO of the NTA, Anne Graham says passengers can also play their part in reducing the risk of spreading the virus:

19.10 - USA:

Any Irish citizens in the United States on a short term visa are being urged to make arrangements to return home as soon as possible.

The Department of Foreign Affairs says flights continue to operate between Dublin and several US airports.

It says the spread of Coronavirus in the US is becoming more serious every day and putting the population at greater risk.

It is advising anyone on short term visas who risk losing employment, financial security & access to health care to return to Ireland.

19.05 - Italy:

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Italy has risen again - to 919 in one day.

It's the highest daily total anywhere in the world since the epidemic began.

A total of 9-thousand-1-hundred-and-34 people have now passed away in the country after contracting Covid-19, while more than 80,000 cases have been confirmed there.

19.00 - Radio:

€2.5 million is going to be re-purposed to support local and independent radio stations. 

Stations will apply for the funding from the Sound and Vision scheme if they are broadcasting providing trusted information about COVID-19.

Communications Minister Richard Bruton has said it's in response to a dramatic fall-off in revenue from advertising because of the Coronavirus crisis. 

18.42 - Breaking News:

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been informed that an additional three patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Ireland have died.

One person in the north-west of the country and two females in the east.

There have now been 22 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

There are 14 new cases in the midlands.

Offaly: 19

Laois: 10

Westmeath: 39

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has been informed of 302 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland, as at 1pm, Thursday 26 March.

There are now 2,121 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.

Today’s data from HPSC, as of midnight, Wednesday 25th March (1,639 cases), reveals:

· 54% are male and 46% are female, with 79 clusters involving 317 cases

· The median age of confirmed cases is 46 years

· 419 cases (26%) have been hospitalised

· Of those hospitalised, 59 cases have been admitted to ICU

· 375 cases (23%) are associated with healthcare workers

· Dublin has the highest number of cases at 922, (56% of all cases) followed by Cork with 171 cases (10%)

· Of those for whom transmission status is known; community transmission accounts for 52%, close contact accounts for 22%, travel abroad accounts for 26%

Department of Health’s COVID-19 Information Dashboard; providing latest case information.

17.50 - HSE

The Chief Operating Officer of the HSE says they expect significant growth in the number people going into ICU over the coming days.

As of last night, according to the COO, 59 people were in ICUs who had tested positive for Covid 19.

It's after ther Taoiseach Leo Varadkar earlier warned that intensive care units could be at capacity within days

The HSE's main priority is to grow the number if cirtical care beds around the country to deal with cases of Covid 19.

COO Ann O Connor says additional areas of hospitals may need to be used to treat patients:

 

17.45 - Alcohol

Men are being asked not to consume more than 17 standard drinks a week, while the limit for women is 11. 

This is the recommended weekly guidelines by the HSE, as people increase their alcohol consumption during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The World Health Organisation says using drink to get through the stress of the outbreak is an unhelpful coping strategy. 

Spokesperson for Alcohol Action Ireland, Eunan McKinney, says people need to be aware of the risks involved:
 

17.40 - Transport 

SIPTU wants passenger numbers on busses and trains reduced to protect people from Covid-19.

It's unhappy over the National Transport Authority's decision to cut public transport services from next week.

The union's spokesperson, John Murphy wants the NTA to reverse this step:

17.35 - Government

The Taoiseach says decisions that are "not easy and not popular" will need to be made to get the country back on track after the coronavirus pandemic.

He says efforts are ongoing between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail to form a government - but that a third party and Independents could be needed.

Leo Varadkar says tough decisions will have to be made to respond to the impact of Covid 19:

17.30 - UK

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has also tested positive for Coronavirus.

The Chief Medical Officer in Britain, Chris Whitty is self isolating too after developing symptoms.

Matt Hancock joined the Prime Minister in thanking health workers:

17.05 Italy

919 people have died form coronavirus in Italy in the last 24 hours- the highest ever daily death toll.

There have now been more than 9,000 fatalities in the country and more than 80,000 have been infected with Covid 19.

Authorities believe the epidemic could peak in the next few days but they have warned that the crisis is far from over.

Speaking at the WHO this afternoon infectious disease epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove says this virus can be controlled

17.00 New York

New York is the epicentre of the virus in the US - with nearly 38-thousand cases.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state urgently needs tens of thousands of ventilators, and hospital beds:

 

16.55 Communications

The Communications Minister has announced funding of 2 and a half million euro for the commercial independent radio sector.

Richard Bruton says local and independent radio stations have a crucial role to play in responding to the Covid 19 pandemic. 

It's after he announced earlier this week the Broadcasting Levy payable by the radio sector would be waived for the first six months of the year, saving local radio and independent stations around 1 million euro. 

16.50 - Government

A multi-billion euro social welfare package to deal with the Coronavirus has been approved by the Seanad. 

The omnibus bill would usually take weeks to approve - but passed through the Dáil and Seanad in just two days.

It also outlaws rent increases and evictions for the next three months.

It's the final act of this Seanad ahead of the elections next week. 

The bill now goes to the President for his signature. 

During the debate Tánaiste Simon Coveney said it's essential politicians work together to tackle this crisis:

 

16.45 - Transport

Public transport will run at 80 per cent of normal services from next week, as part of measures to deal with the spread of the coronavirus.

Irish Rail will operate a revised timetable from Monday.

A new schedule will be in place for Dublin Bus, Go-Ahead Ireland and Bus Éireann from Wednesday.

Some routes however will get additional services to maintain social distancing.

Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, explains:

 

16.39 - Charities

Gambling charities are warning that bookmakers are encouranging people to bet on virtual racing. 

With the absence of regular sport due to the Covid-19 outbreak animated betting is on the rise. 

CEO of Problem Gambling Ireland, Barry Grant, says people are at a greater risk while browsing online

16.20 - Utilities

Gas and electricity disconnections have been suspended until April 19th.

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities along with Gas and Electricity Suppliers have made the decision.

CRU has extended the measures to protect customers due to the uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic.

It'll ensure they'll continue to have an electricity and gas supply.

16.15 - Prisons

Irish prisoners won't be allowed any visitors in person from the end of today.

It's hoped that all visits will be conducted through video calls from early next week.

The measures are being introduced in a bid to prevent Covid-19 spreading into Irish prisons.

It comes as 27 prisoners in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus.

16.05 - Peru

An Irish resident who is stuck in Peru doesn't know if he'll be allowed on a rescue flight because he has a British passport.

Andrew Garrigan has lived and worked in Ireland since 1998 and owns a house here but he's not an Irish citizen.

The Department of Foreign affairs says that up to 130 Irish people will be repatriated home in the coming days after getting the go ahead from the Peruvian government.

But Andrew doesn't know if he'll be allowed on the flight:

15.50 - Intensive care:

The Taoiseach says intensive care units could be at capacity within days.

There are currently 1,800 confirmed cases of Covid 19 in the Republic and 47 people receiving ICU treatment.

Leo Varadkar says an "unprecedented effort" is ongoing by the health service to find extra capacity and more ventilators.

But he's concerned ICU units will come under increasing pressure as more people are diagnosed with coronavirus:

15.45 - Transport:

Some public transport routes are getting additional services to facilitate social distancing. 

Other train and bus services will be scaled back to free up drivers and fleet. 

Senior Government Official Elizabeth Canavan says the changes will come into effect next week. 

 

  • 15.40 - Tesco:

    Tesco has announced further steps from next Tuesday to help customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    It's bringing in priority shopping hours for healthcare workers and emergency services staff before 9am on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.

    They will be the only customers in stores during this time. 
     
    Last week, the supermarket introduced priority shopping hours for over 65s and family carers.

    15.15 - Northern Ireland:

    Three more people have died in the North due to the coronavirus, bringing the total there to 13.

    The Public Health Agency says 34 more people have tested positive for the virus, a total of 275.

    These latest figures have led to calls from Belfast GPs for a complete lockdown to try to manage the pandemic.

    14.58 - Queen:

    In the UK, the Queen's Trooping the Colour birthday parade isn't going to go ahead as planned in June.

    Thousands of people usually take part in the annual celebration in London.

    Buckingham Palace says a number of other options are being looked at instead. 

    14.50 - Mortuary:

    The grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin have been identified as the location for a temporary mortuary.

    In a statement, the Irish Museum of Modern Art says it's determined to assist with the national effort to deal with Covid 19, following a request for the use of the grounds for the construction of the facility.

    It says it's a reminder of the seriousness of the situation but that the dignity and solemn beauty of the grounds is appropriate.

    14.40 - Supplies:

    The first Aer Lingus cargo flight will leave for China tomorrow morning to collect a consignment of Personal Protective Equipment.

    It'll return to Dublin airport late on Sunday evening.

    The HSE is spending over 230 million euro to buy the much needed supplies for healthcare staff, in the battle against the coronavirus.

    The Chinese Embassy in Dublin says landing slots for 10 Aer Lingus flights have been secured.

    14.09 - Flights:

    Over 130 Irish people will return from Peru in the next few days after the country shut down its borders.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs says it's still making arrangements for everyone to get to Lima, where the flight will depart from. 

    Meanwhile seats have also been secured on flights for Irish citizens wanting to return from Australia.

    The flights are being organised by a private travel agent and cost over 1,700 euro

    Grace O'Shaughnessy from Limerick is in Sydney and says some people can't afford expensive flights:

    13.40 - CSO:

    The Central Statistics Office is appealing for firms to continue making returns to establish the impact of Covid 19 on the economy.

    Figures for February show retail sales fell by 4.3 per cent compared to the previous month.

    They were 0.3 per cent lower on an annual basis.

    However the reflect figures refer to the period before the coronavirus crisis hit.

    The motor trade and hardware sales saw the biggest drop, while furniture and clothing saw sales increase.

    13.15 - Alcohol:

    Alcohol Action Ireland is appealing to people not to use drink as a coping strategy during the Covid-19 crisis. 

    The charity has published advice on the risks associated with people turning to alcohol. 

    They recommend staying within the weekly low-risk alcohol guidelines which are 11 standard drinks for women, and 17 for men.

    Spokesperson for AAI, Eunan McKinney, says people need to be having 2 to 3 alcohol-free days per week:

    13.09 - Taoiseach:

    he Taoiseach says he'd be surprised if there were fewer than one-thousand deaths from Covid 19 in Ireland.

    The death toll now stands at 19, and Leo Varadkar says his thoughts are with the families of the 10 people who passed away yesterday.

    The country's top health officials are meeting this afternoon to discuss Ireland's response.

    Leo Varadkar says we're still at the start of the pandemic, and that there will be many more deaths linked to the coronavirus:

    13.00 - Testing kits:

    People are being advised not to buy Covid-19 testing kits online, as fake products are now circulating throughout Europe.

    The Health Products Regulatory Authority has warned that they may provide incorrect results.

    There is currently no evidence that they are available to buy in Ireland.

    The authority is urging the public to rely only on healthcare professionals when it comes to guidance for coronavirus testing.

    12.47 - Dark Day:

    Tánaiste Simon Coveney says yesterday was Ireland's darkest day so far in the Coronavirus emergency after 10 more people died. 

    He's also appealed for other political parties to join Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in government to deal with what he's called a once in a century crisis.

    The virus has been described as an invisible enemy that will require a strong and lasting government to fight it. 

    Minister Coveney says other political parties need to join in the process to form that government:

    12.31 - Daniel O Donnell:

    Daniel O'Donnell says it's unbelievable that fraudsters are taking advantage of his fans through a scam fundraiser.

    An Instagram account claiming to be the Donegal singer has been asking fans for money to help battle the outbreak of Covid-19.

    The account has been reported to the Gardaí, and anyone who has already donated is urged to contact them immediately.

    Daniel says dishonest people are capitalising on vulnerable people at a distressing time:

    12.17 - National Public Health Emergency Team:

    The National Public Health Emergency Team is meeting to consider if greater measures are needed to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

    The country's most senior health officials are very worried about the doubling of deaths linked to the virus in 24 hours, and clusters of cases in nursing homes.

    The National Public Health Emergency Team or NEPHT, met on Tuesday, but such is the spread of Covid 19 they met yesterday and again today. 

    Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan said three meetings this week shows the scale of the work ahead. 

    The numbers contracting and dying from coronavirus is growing, and officials are concerned the death toll more than doubled in 24 hours.

    NPHET is very worried about clusters of cases emerging so far in nine nursing homes, eight hospitals, and two community long-stay settings.

    Daily increases in ICU admissions, the fact 23 per cent of total cases are healthcare workers, and community transmission making up a majority of cases are also big worries. 

    The team has been meeting since 10am to look at what more can be done.  

    Even stricter social distancing measures could be brought in. 

    Ahead of this morning's meeting, Dr. Holohan said if any further measures are needed, recommendations will be made to the public and government "without hesitation". 

    12.01 - Domino's

    Domino's says its sales have jumped in the past week as people are staying inside due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    The pizza business says trading has "accelerated" despite moving to being delivery-only.

    It says a higher demand for takeaways has offset the company's lack of collection sales.

    11.55 - Late Late Show:

    Ryan Tubridy will not be presenting tonight's Late Late show because he has a persistent cough.

    He has decided to stay away as a precaution, and Miriam O'Callaghan will stand in on his behalf.

    The show will honour frontline workers and feature League of Ireland footballer Lee Duffy who was hospitalised with the virus.

    Hozier will launch an emergency appeal for the ISPCC, and Brendan O'Carroll will join the show via video link from Florida.

    Brian O'Driscoll and Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will also feature tonight. 

    11.51 - Public Transport:

    Public Transport is to be scaled back to manage the spread of COVID19.

    Revised timetables for Irish Rail, Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus and Go Ahead will come into effect next week. 

    Services will run at approximately 80 per cent of current levels. 

    Senior Government Official Elizabeth Canavan says some busier routes will be given more resources:

    Dermot O'Leary, from the National Bus and Rail Union, welcomes scaling back of public transport. 

    But he says it's vital services aren't cancelled completely:

    11.48 - Spain:

    The number of people with Covid-19 who've died in Spain has risen to more than 4-thousand-800. 

    There are now more than 64-thousand coronavirus cases in the country. 

    That represents a rise of more than 7-thousand in 24 hours. 

    11.39 - Prisons:

    Visiting at all Irish prisons is being suspended in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    The Irish Prison Service had already placed restrictions on visiting, limiting numbers and the length of time visitors could stay.

    However from tomorrow, no prisoners will be allowed to have visitors. 

    Prisoners will instead have "electronic visits". 

    11.31 - Gambling:

    There's a warning people are being targeted with virtual gambling due to the absence of regular sport.

    Charities say bookmakers are encouraging people to bet on animated racing and games. 

    CEO of Problem Gambling Ireland, Barry Grant, says vulnerable people could be taken advantage of:

    11.27 - Daffodil Day:

    The Irish Cancer Society is holding a digital Daffodil Day to raise funds for people affected by cancer.

    The charity's biggest fundraiser was due to take place today but was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.

    The charity would usually raise around 4 million euro on Daffodil Day -  a fifth of its annual funding.

    People can now download a digital daffodil, donate on the Irish Cancer Society's website, or by phone. 

    11.20 - Peru:

    Peru has given the go ahead for over 100 Irish people to be flown home.

    Irish backpackers and tourists became stranded there after the country announced it would shut all air, land and sea borders with very little notice almost two weeks ago.

    Following a call between Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and his Peruvian counterpart, diplomatic clearance has been given for a repatriation flight in the next few days.

    11.16 - Boris:

    11.00 - Inspections:

    The Health Minister says inspections will be carried out at businesses next week, and those not following social distancing rules could be closed down.

    There's concern building sites in particular are struggling to keep workers 2 metres apart.

    The country's top health officials are meeting this morning to discuss Ireland's response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

    The number of deaths linked to the virus now stands at 19, and there are over 1,800 confirmed cases.

    Health Minister Simon Harris says every business needs to stick to the guidelines:

    10.47 - Abroad:

    Irish citizens abroad are pleading for assistance to get home. 

    Many are stranded in different parts of the world with authorities closing borders in certain countries. 

    The Department of Foreign Affairs has secured a number of seats on flights for people seeking to leave Australia and Peru. 

    Grace O'Shaughnessy, from Co Limerick, is in Sydney and she says everything is very uncertain:

    10.32 - Asylum:

    Up to eight asylum-seekers are sharing bedrooms in some direct-provision centres - despite the coronavirus pandemic. 

    The Movement of Asylum-Seekers in Ireland claims social-distancing guidelines aren't being adhered to. 

    Bulelani Mfaco is a spokesman for the group:

    10.17 - President:

    The President of Ireland says sustaining the measures put in place to fight Covid-19 will be the country's biggest test. 

    Michael D Higgins has expressed his sympathy to the families of the 19 people who lost their lives here as a result of the virus. 

    There are now 1,819 confirmed cases of the coronvirus in Ireland, 47 of which have needed intensive care. 

    President Higgins says we must do our best in order to help heathcare workers:

     

    10.12 - Alcohol:

    People are being warned not to drink alcohol as a way of dealing with the stress of Covid-19. 

    The World Health Organisation says it is an unhelpful coping strategy. 

    Alcohol Action Ireland has today published advice on the risks associated with people turning to drink. 

    Spokesman Eunan McKinney says there are much better healthier ways to deal with stress:

    10.02 - UK:

    In the UK, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has written to recently-retired officers, asking them to consider re-joining the force during the coronavirus crisis. 

    Dame Cressida Dick is urging anyone who left in the past five years to return:

    09.52 - Business:

    ISME is criticising the government's plans to publish the names of business that avail of the Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

    The scheme has been brought in to ensure business impacted by Covid-19 can continue to pay staff at least 70 per cent of their wage.

    Last night the Dáil approved the emergency legislation. 

    ISME chief executive Neil McDonnell says naming businesses availing of the scheme is unfair:

    09.43 - Intensive care:

    Senior health officials are concerned about the increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to the ICU. 

    47 patients have been in intensive care with the virus. 

    The country's top health officials will meet this morning to discuss the increase, as well as other worrying trends such as the number of clusters in nursing homes, the rise in community transmission and the spread among health workers.

    There are now 1,819 confirmed cases here, resulting in 19 deaths.

    Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says we won't know if the measures put in place are working until next week at the earliest:

    09.34 - Communication:

    The amount of protective gear medical staff have to wear to protect against the coronavirus is making it difficult to communicate.

    That's according to an intensive care specialist at Crumlin Children's Hospital.

    Medical staff have to wear gowns, gloves, goggles, masks and plastic visors, which must be changed between patients.

    Dr Suzanne Crowe says staff are having to use whiteboards to make sure they're understood:

    09.30 - Dogs:

    Dogs Trust says it has received over 400 requests from people who want to foster a dog during the current crisis.

    The charity is also offering dog owners advice on keeping their pets occupied during self isolation or quarantine.

    It says there are many activities involving their favourite treats and toys, to building doggy dens and treasure hunts so they don't have to leave the house.

    Corina Fitzsimons from Dogs Trust says they are also looking for more foster homes:

    09.29 - Donation:

    Vodafone Ireland is donating 1,000 new smartphones with credit top ups to Alone, which supports older people in Ireland.

    The phones are pre-loaded with useful apps, including WhatsApp, Facebook and Spotify, along with information about online food deliveries and other important phone numbers.

    Vodafone Ireland is also making an emergency donation to Women's Aid, so that the charity can provide immediate assistance and services to women under increased threat from abuse and violence during this time.

    08.37 - Peru:

    Dozens of Irish tourists and backpackers trapped in Peru will be repatriated home after a diplomatic breakthrough.

    Land and air borders are shut there after a state of emergency was declared as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

    After negotiations between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Peruvian government, diplomatic clearance has been given for a repatriation flight in the next few days.

    08.18 - Other sickness:

    Doctors are concerned that people are avoiding seeking medical help for other serious illnesses during the coronavirus outbreak. 

    There's been a significant drop in the number of patients going to their GP or hospitals with non-Covid-19 related complaints.

    Gabrielle Colleran, from the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, says people shouldn't be afraid to get help:

    08.16 - Jigsaw:

    A mental health charity for young people has had a 400 per cent increase in demand for online services. 

    Jigsaw has temporarily suspended all face-to-face services due to the Covid-19 crisis. 

    It has also had more than 500 teachers across the country sign up to its Mental Health eLearning Programme.

    Chief executive of the charity, Dr Joseph Duffy, says there are many reasons for the rise in people seeking support:

    08.13 - Emergency meeting:

    The National Public Health Emergency Team meets this morning, with senior health officials very concerned about some trends emerging in the spread of Covid 19 here. 

    They're worried about day-on-day increases in ICU admissions, clusters of nursing home cases, the rise in community transmission, and the spread of the virus among health workers. 

    The number of Covid-19 related deaths here has more than doubled in 24 hours, with 10 more people dying, bringing the death toll to 19. 

    There have also been a further 255 confirmed cases, with 1,819 cases now recorded:

    Chief medical officer Tony Holohan says they may decide to bring in more measures to stop the spread after today's meeting: 

    07.11 - Asylum Seekers:

    The government is being accused of abandoning asylum-seekers during the Covid-19 crisis. 

    The Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland says people can't practice social-distancing when sharing a room with seven others. 

    MASI says it is not surprised that someone living in Direct Provision has contracted the virus. 

    It is calling on the conditions and standards to be improved for people seeking refuge. 

    06.45 - Student nurses:

    Four thousand student nurses and midwives have been offered pay for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    They will be paid on a salary of 28,000 euro and offered a contract as a healthcare assistant.

    The Health Minister says there is no obligation for them to work - but the country needs all hands on deck.

    Phil Ni Sheaghdha, from Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, says the details of the plan have yet to be fully revealed:

    06.44 - Worldwide:

    The United States now has the highest number of cases of Covid-19 in the world.

    It has now surpassed China and Italy, who all have over 80,000 positive tests, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

    Globally over 23,000 people have died, with more than 8,000 deaths in Italy.

    06.43 - Helpline:

    A new helpline has been launched to link up communities with people who are self isolation.

    People can can now text 086 180 0256 or call 021 297 7809 between 9am and 9pm everyday.

    It's been run by the Covid Community Response group, which is made up of more than 1,100 volunteers.

    A call team will connect them with volunteers in their community who will step in and help out.

    One of the organisers, Seamus Ó Fátharta, says it's a vital service:

    06.41 - Northern Ireland:

    Field hospitals are to be created in Northern Ireland to cope with an expected surge in coronavirus cases. 

    According to The Irish News, leisure centres, the former Maize prison and Belfast's Titanic area are potential sites. 

    There are 241 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the North, including ten deaths. 

    06.40 - National picture:

    The number of Covid-19 related deaths here has more than doubled in 24 hours. 

    Ten more people diagnosed with the virus have died, bringing the death toll to 19. 

    There have also been a further 255 confirmed cases, meaning there are now 1,819 cases recorded. 

    The National Public Health Emergency Team meets this morning, with health officials very concerned about increases in ICU admissions, clusters of nursing home cases, and the spread of the virus among health workers. 

    Chief medical officer Tony Holohan says the death toll will continue to rise: 

    06.00 - Local figures:

    There are now 54 cases of Coronavirus in the midlands region. 

    The Department of Health announced 10 new deaths yesterday.

    In total 19 people, including an Offaly man, has died from the illness. 

    Westmeath now has 29 people with the illness, with 16 cases in Offaly and nine people have been diagnosed in Laois.

    There were 255 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland yesterday bringing the total to 1,819 

 

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