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Cillian De Gascun speaking at a Department of Health briefing. Leah Farrell/

Restrictions set to be extended - but could be eased in the 'next couple of weeks'

Dr Cillian De Gascun stressed that things will not immediately be going back to normal.

RESTRICTIONS INTRODUCED TO tackle the spread of Covid-19 are set to be in place for at least another couple of weeks, Dr Cillian De Gascun of the National Virus Reference Laboratory indicated this morning. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme this morning, De Gascun warned that restrictions would not disappear overnight. 

The restrictions were due to end on 12 April – but it is widely expected that the measures will continue beyond Easter Sunday.

De Gascun said that while he hoped that some of the restrictions could be lifted in the “next couple of weeks”, he said that “we need to do better before we can realistically lift those restrictions”.

“We are conscious of the fact that the restrictions are very difficult for people,” he said. “And they are not sustainable in the long term, so what we would hope to do is be able to lift them in the next couple of weeks and then monitor the situation from the virus perspective.”

He warned that the government could then possibly “increase the restrictions again if needs be depending on the number of cases, depending on the number of people going into hospital, the number of people going into intensive care”.

“There is a long way to go unfortunately,” he added.

To date, 263 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus have died in Ireland, while there are now 6,574 confirmed cases in the country. 

De Gascun said that a lot depends on the sampling and testing being carried out by the government and HSE. “We would expect our laboratory testing capacity to increase dramatically over the next seven to 10 days,” he said. 

If some restrictions were eased, De Gascun suggested that people might be allowed outside more and some retail outlets could re-open again.

But he emphasised that “we’re not going to be going back to a normal state of affairs”.

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