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Government announces 'unprecedented actions' and Olympics postponed: Today's Covid-19 main points

There are 1,329 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.

A sign with guidelines on social distancing when outdoors in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin
A sign with guidelines on social distancing when outdoors in the Botanic Gardens in Dublin
Image: Brian Lawless via PA Images

Updated Tue 9:33 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that all non-essential shops are to close as part of a range of new measures introduced in a bid to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

This evening, health chiefs confirmed a further 204 new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of cases here to 1,329. 

One more death was also confirmed, meaning seven people have died from the virus here. 

On the international front, the Olympics has been postponed until 2021, the UK’s death toll has risen to 422 and US President Donald Trump has rejected arguments for a lockdown. 

Here are today’s main Covid-19 points:

  • A further 204 new cases of Covid-19 and one more death from the disease was announced by health authorities.
  • A raft of new public health measures have been introduced to combat the spread of Covid-19. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the suite of actions as “unprecedented”.
  • The Chief Medical Officer explained why the new measures are being introduced.
  • Education Minister Joe McHugh has said that schools will remain closed until 29 March, but will not be opening immediately after that.
  • Private hospitals will act as part of the public health system for the duration of the pandemic.
  • Northern Ireland’s number of Covid-19 deaths has risen to five. The North’s number of cases has doubled in four days and now stands at 172.
  • Health Minister Simon Harris informed the CervicalCheck patient support group that the tribunal into the cancer screening scandal has been delayed due to the pandemic.
  • The INMO is calling for student nurses and midwives completing unpaid work placements during the outbreak to be paid
  • Ryanair is expecting that most of its flights will be grounded from today – a situation the company thinks could last into May. 
  • Queen’s University Belfast has been awarded a €315,000 grant in a bid to find a vaccine for coronavirus.
  • Bloom, Ireland’s largest gardening, food and family festival, has announced the cancellation of this year’s event. Bord Bia said it took the decision in light of the “unprecedented threat to public health”.
  • The chairperson of the Citizens’ Assembly, Dr Catherine Day, has today confirmed that the planned meeting of the Assembly on 25 and 26 April has been postponed.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Anthony Costello, a former director of the World Health Organization said that “the UK has moved too slowly, unlike Ireland”. 

He said that “the lockdown is important,”  but “I fear the UK will be like Italy and Wuhan right now… We’re coming to (testing) much later than Ireland.” 

In international coronavirus news:

  • India’s population of 1.3 billion people have been put under “total lockdown” for 21 days.
  • The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021 following talks between Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and IOC president, Thomas Bach. 
  • The UK’s death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 422. There are 8,077 cases of the illness in the country. Yesterday Boris Johnson ordered a tough suite of measures across to enforce people staying in their homes.
  • US President Donald Trump has said he will soon call for lifting a lockdown imposed in some parts of the country as a result of the coronavirus. 
  • China has announced that the lockdown would be lifted on more than 50 million people in the central Hubei province. 
  • Two more people have died in Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19, bringing the total number of deaths in the country to 16. 
  • Italy has reported a second successive drop in daily deaths and infections from Covid-19. The country has now seen its daily fatalities come down from 793 on Saturday to 651 on Sunday and 601 yesterday.
  • Another 514 people have died in Sain over the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 2,696. 
  • Spanish soldiers deployed to help fight the outbreak have found elderly patients abandoned, and sometimes dead, at retirement homes. 
  • The World Health Organization has said the US could become the new epicentre for the coronavirus outbreak after a sharp increase in cases. 

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