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France orders full lockdown, large jump in Irish cases expected and a European travel ban: Today's Covid-19 main points

Here’s the latest as Ireland begins its first full week of school closures.

The HSE's plan aims to 'flatten the curve' of the virus spread.
The HSE's plan aims to 'flatten the curve' of the virus spread.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Updated Mar 16th 2020, 4:30 PM

IT WAS CONFIRMED yesterday evening that there are 40 new cases of coronavirus in Ireland, bringing the total number in the Republic to 169.

Eleven new cases had been confirmed in the North earlier, bringing the total number there to 45.

The developments came as the government advised that all pubs across the State should close their doors for a fortnight to ensure that social distancing guidelines are followed. 

As European countries bring in even more stringent measures, efforts are underway to ensure Irish people can return home. 

Here are today’s main Covid-19 points: 

  • 54 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed by the National Public Health Emergency Team this evening, bringing the total number of cases in the Republic to 223. 
  • Seven new cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, meaning there are 52 people there with the illness. The total number on the island of Ireland now stands at 221. 
  • Leo Varadkar said he expects to see 15,000 cases of the disease in Ireland by the end of the month. 
  • New legislation is to be passed tomorrow to give gardaí extra powers to detain people flaunting mass-gathering rules. 
  • Leo Varadkar warned that 100,000 jobs might be lost in the coming weeks.
  • The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19 is set to meet again at 2.30pm today. 
  • Green Party leader Eamon Ryan called on political parties to suspend talks on forming a majority government and instead form a crisis National Unity Government.
  • Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald urged the government to implement a mortgage holiday, put in place some kind of rent support and halt all evictions.
  • GPs can arrange coronavirus tests online from today.  
  • Crumlin Children’s Hospital postponed all outpatient appointments until further notice. 
  • Health Minister Simon Harris advised that all pubs should close until at least 29 March. Publican groups have said their members should follow the advice. 
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had earlier suggested that special powers could be sought from the Oireachtas to enforce closures. 
  • The head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has called on the government to issue a directive ordering restaurants and cafes to close. 
  • The government is to establish a Pandemic Unemployment Payment to help people who have lost work because of the coronavirus outbreak.  
  • There is concern about Irish holidaymakers in Spain being unable to return home, with an exodus from the country expected in the coming days. 
  • Ryanair has said a “full grounding” of its fleet cannot be ruled out as it expects most of its aircraft to be grounded in the next 7-10 days. The airline is now letting customers change their flights free of charge.
  • Bookmakers Paddy Power and Boylesports have both announced they are closing all shops in the Republic of Ireland until 29 March. 
  • Debunked: The HSE has said that a viral message being shared in Ireland about the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs is false.
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also urged people to “seek information only from trusted sources” with Tánaiste Simon Coveney also criticising those spreading misinformation.
  • The Dublin Fire Brigade confirmed yesterday evening that one of its members tested positive for the virus. 
  • Staff at the Irish Times are to work from home for 48 hours following a confirmed case among its staff. 
  • The Intensive Care Society of Ireland has said that while there are currently 500 ventilators available, there is not 500 ventilator beds. 
  • The Irish Petroleum Industry Association has moved to reassure customers there will be no interruption in the supply of petrol, diesel and home-heating oil. 
  • The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association said beef processors should be holding or increasing their prices at this time and that there is no justification for price cuts.
  • Brittanny Ferries suspended a number of its passenger services including weekly sailings between Roscoff in France and Rosslare in Wexford. 

Here are the main international points: 

  • The President of the European Commission announced proposals to introduce temporary 30-day restriction on non-essential travel to the EU
  • French president Emmanuel Macron ordered people to stay at home from midday Tuesday except for necessary reasons such as shopping, saying any violations of the stricter rules to battle the coronavirus would be punished.
  • US president Donald Trump urged Americans to avoid groups of 10 or more.
  • The UK’s Health Minister confirmed that the government plans to ask people over 70 to self-isolate for up to four months.
  • Spain and France registered 183 and 29 new deaths respectively yesterday.
  • Portugal is to close its border with Spain to tourists for at least a month.
  • Germany is closing its borders with France, Austria and Switzerland to all but commercial traffic. (BBC News
  • Germany’s foreign minister has said the rights to coronavirus vaccine research were not for sale, following reports Donald Trump wanted the US to buy exclusive access to a potential vaccine developed by a German biotech firm.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières has warned European states ensure that the closing of borders does not hamper the movement of medical supplies.    
  • Anyone entering the White House will have their temperature taken after US President Trump tested negative.
  • Tourism giant TUI is suspending most of its operations.
  • Qatar is to bar entry to the country by air to non-Qatari nationals from Wednesday, it does not apply to people in transit who are stopping over. 

With reporting by Garreth MacNamee

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Rónán Duffy

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