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Criteria to be tested changes, Spain's death toll surpasses China's: Today's main Covid-19 points

Health officials announced 235 new cases and two more deaths in Ireland today.

Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Updated Wed 7:33 PM

THE IRISH GOVERNMENT has announced new, stricter measures to try to slow the spread of coronavirus – asking people to stay at home unless buying food, attending essential medical services, or for exercising.

A social welfare suite was also announced to support citizens, services and businesses – including a €350-a-week wage to those put out of work by the shutdown.

Gatherings and groups of more than four are not allowed, unless they are already part of the same unit who are living together – all these measures will be in place until 19 April. 

The criteria you need to meet to get tested for Covid-19 has also changed: you now need at least two of the main symptoms, need hospital care, or have been in contact with a confirmed case.

Here are today’s main points.

  • 235 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland tonight, bringing the total number of cases here to 1,564
  • Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says it now seems likely that Ireland will not reach 15,000 cases of Covid-19 by the end of the month, as had initially been forecast
  • All non-essential shops are to close, and there are restrictions on gatherings of more than four people
  • The new Covid-19 unemployment payment will rise to €350, while Revenue will run a temporary wage scheme to guarantee 70% of wages up to €38,000
  • Boots are urging patients to pre-order their prescriptions and collect them when they are ready, in order to reduce wait times in pharmacies
  • Parents will not have to pay for childcare they are not receiving during Covid-19 crisis, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone has confirmed
  • The Road Safety Authority has suspended theory tests because of Covid-19
  • Greyhound racing is cancelled; the Irish Greyhound Board is giving each active greyhound €2 a day under a new Covid-19 scheme
  • Enterprise trains are running at a revised timetable until further notice
  • Wicklow County Council added to its list of closed facilities. Bray seafront food kiosks, Bray Head carpark and Glen Beach Cliff Walk are now also closed.
  • RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy was off air today after having a cough for a few days
  • Thousands of Irish citizens are stranded in Australia and New Zealand after the country imposed a lockdown on Monday that closed most public spaces 
  • Irish people living in the UK gave us their account of what it’s like at the moment.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny this morning that “far more of the economy is still working at normal capacity and doing ok” verus what we think and feel at the moment because of online capacity.

On rents, Donohoe said that commercial landlords “needed to recognise the position we are in”. He said that the commercial market will be different after the pandemic ends, and landlords needed to bear this in mind so that “they still have a tenant” after the pandemic ends. 

Elsewhere in the world:

  • The global number of deaths has surpassed 20,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been over 450,000 coronavirus cases around the world and approximately 113,000 of these have recovered
  • The number of coronavirus deaths in Italy rose by 683 to 7,503
  • Spain’s coronavirus death toll surpassed China’s after 738 people died over the past 24 hours. A total of 3,434 people have now died from the illness in the Iberian country. Its deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo, also tested positive for Covid-19
  • 1,331 people have now died from the virus in France after 231 deaths were recorded in the last 24 hours
  • New York recorded more than 5,000 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours 
  • The British parliament is expected to close today because of the coronavirus outbreak, with MPs sent home a week early for Easter
  • Britain’s deputy ambassador to Hungary Steven Dick died after testing positive for Covid-19. He was 37-years-old
  • Prince Charles has tested positive for coronavirus, and is displaying mild symptoms
  • Panama became the latest Latin American country to declare a lockdown due to the novel coronavirus yesterday, while Paraguay closed its borders until the end of the week
  • There are 8,000 cases in the UK, with 400 deaths; in the US, there are 54,000 cases and 780 deaths
  • In the UK, more than 400,000 volunteers signed up to support the NHS in helping vulnerable people.

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