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'Clarity' on St Patrick's parade and sick pay expected within next two days, says Harris

The parade is due to take place next Tuesday in Dublin city centre.

St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin last year.
St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin last year.
Image: RollingNews.ie

CLARITY FROM PUBLIC health experts on whether the St Patrick’s Festival parade in Dublin should go ahead next week is expected within the next 48 hours, Minister for Health Simon Harris has said. 

A decision from the Cabinet Covid-19 committee on the issue of sick pay for workers is also expected today. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister for Health Simon Harris said public health experts will be guiding advice on the St Patrick’s Day parade within the next 24 to 48 hours. 

“Ireland is at an early stage of progression here compared to other European countries,” Harris said.  

“There is a moderate to high risk we will follow a pattern seen in other EU countries.”

Speaking to members of the press this morning, Harris said the best estimate for how high this risk could be is due “by the end of the week”. 

“It is important to say it’s only an estimate because this is a virus the world didn’t know about 12 weeks ago. So we’re learning more about it every day but by the end of the week we’ll have a projection of our best guess and our best estimate,” he said. 

The Cabinet Covid-19 committee is meeting this morning to discuss a number of measures to support businesses and those working from home, including access to sick pay. 

It is feared that workers who do not have sick pay entitlements in their contracts, and who cannot afford a loss of income will not take time off from work and will spread the virus by working while sick. 

Last night, two more cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland bringing the total figure to 21. 

Preparation 

Harris said “not just a whole government” approach is required to deal with the Covid-19 situation in Ireland, but a whole society approach.

He said Ireland would have to “particularly prepare” to support elderly people, vulnerable people and those with underlying illness. 

“Every single decision we make will not be political,” said Harris, adding that they will be made in the interest of public health. 

“We are continuing to look at opportunities across the health services to open up more beds, and those beds will be funded,” said Harris.

He said many elective procedures in private hospitals could also be cancelled.

Cork University Hospital is rescheduling outpatient appointments between today and Wednesday amid concerns about the disease. 

“We will not be left wanting when it comes to any resources that are required,” Harris said. 

With reporting by Céimin Burke. 

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