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North-South leaders meet, 39 new cases and one death, US travel ban for Ireland: Today's main Covid-19 points

There’s only one story in the headlines – stay up to date with the coronavirus here.

Image: Sam Boal/

THERE ARE NOW 129 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland after the Department of Health announced 39 new cases, as well as a second coronavirus-related death, today.

It represents the highest increase in a 24-hour period since the coronavirus was confirmed in Ireland.

There are now also 34 cases in Northern Ireland after health authorities announced they identified four new cases earlier today.

Representatives from the Irish government – including the Taoiseach and Tánaiste – met with their Northern Irish counterparts to discuss the situation on the island today.

It comes as mass gatherings here have been largely banned, over 100 people for indoor gatherings and over 500 for outdoor gatherings. Schools, colleges and public facilities are also closed until 29 March.

Meanwhile, the US has issued a travel ban for Ireland and the UK, following on to the ban introduced on the 26 European countries earlier this week. 

Here are the main points today:

Last evening, Tánaiste Simon Coveney announced that Irish people are now being urged to exercise a “high degree of caution” before deciding to travel to other EU countries.

Prior to yesterday evening, countries such as Italy and Spain where the coronavirus country were rising at a rapid pace, required travellers to exercise a high degree of caution.

Now, a blanket warning has been applied across Europe as the Government attempts to contain the spread of the virus in Ireland.

“In light of rapidly changing conditions & restrictions across a number of EU countries, my Dept is now advising people to exercise ‘a high degree of caution’ before deciding to travel to other EU States. We will continue to update advice,” Coveney said.

In an update today, Coveney also upgraded travel advice for six countries in the EU – Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Malta, Cyprus and Denmark – warning against all non-essential travel to the countries. 

Other ministers and Government departments are also working to address concerns from various cohorts of the population. 

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy today spoke with landlord representative groups and is also engaging with tenant groups and this will continue over the coming days.

He is calling for “forbearance” from landlords in light of the changing circumstances of their tenants in light of the Covid-19 outbreak and the measures introduced to tackle it. 

Trump’s emergency

Meanwhile yesterday evening, US President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency and today it was announced that Ireland and the UK are to be added to the travel ban which was introduced for the 26 Schengen area countries in Europe earlier this week. 

Trump announced $50 billion in federal funds support the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“To unleash the full power of the federal government, I’m officially declaring a national emergency,” Trump said in a statement.

“We will defeat this threat,” Trump said. “When America is tested America rises to the occasion.”

The president added: “This will pass.”

He called on all US states to set up emergency operation centres and said the government was accelerating testing, amid criticism about the lack of sufficient test kits nationwide.

Here are the main international points:

  • US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the Covid-19 outbreak
  • The UK is set to bring in a ban on mass gatherings
  • A newborn baby tested positive for Covid-19 at a London hospital
  • 10 more people died in the UK, bringing the death toll to 21
  • Spain had an extra 1,500 new coronavirus cases in a single day
  • Russia has shut land borders to Poland, Norway to foreigners
  • The Czech Republic said it was closing shops and pubs to curb the virus spread
  • Saudi Arabia has suspended international flights over the virus
  • Apple is to close all stores outside greater China amid the outbreak
  • A memorial for victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand has been called off due to Covid-19

Plans are under way to ban mass gatherings in the UK from next week as the government there looks to implement more extreme measures in the fight against Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism in recent days for not taking such actions, despite similar steps being taken by other European countries as the pandemic worsens.

Emergency legislation bringing in beefed-up powers will be published next week and there could also be a move towards more people working from home, a source said.

The announcement comes as the UK deals with a rising number of cases of the illness, increasing to 798, and a death toll of 11.


Covid-19 is spread through droplets caused by sneezing or coughing, or by touching a surface that someone has sneezed or coughed on within a particular time frame. It cannot be passed through your skin, and it’s thought that it’s unlikely to be airborne.

It may take up to 14 days for symptoms to show. 

The best ways to protect yourself and others from the virus are to wash hands properly and often, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue/your sleeve when coughing and sneezing, and put used tissues in a bin and wash your hands. 

Symptoms of Covid-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties.

Further resources:

  • The HSE: Official advice on the coronavirus in Ireland. This is being updated based on the number of confirmed cases and how the virus spreads in Ireland.
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs: Official advice on where to avoid travelling to. Also a resource for those who are abroad.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO): The UN agency on global public health publishes statements and daily situation reports based on the latest data.
  • European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC): The EU agency on the number of cases, deaths and how it’s spreading in Europe. 
  • The Johns Hopkins University map: A heat map of the confirmed cases across the world.

A helpline for older people who are concerned about the coronavirus has been launched by Alone. The number is 0818 222 024, and it’s open Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm.

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About the author:

Sean Murray

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