Live coronavirus updates from Ireland.
Update 6:30 am EST: The HSE has suggested that Ireland could reach its peak in mid-April and some worst-case scenarios predict that as many as 546 patients may require intensive care per day.
There are currently 88 patients in ICU in Ireland.
The number of patients requiring acute care may also rise to 1,328 per day by April 11, according to RTÉ.
There are 170 ICU beds available in the country today and over 2,000 beds in the acute care system.
Acute care is a branch of secondary healthcare that provides short-term treatments for various illnesses and injuries.
Anne O'Connor, Chief Operations Officer with the HSE, said that the HSE was increasing its intensive care capacity in light of the predictions.
If the figures are correct, it would put a serious strain on the Irish healthcare system.
However, experts believe that the worst-case scenario is unrealistic given that Irish numbers have so far been well below the worst-case scenario projections.
For example, the scenario projected that Ireland would report 878 new cases yesterday. In reality, Ireland reported just 200 new cases, less than 25% of the worst-case scenario.
Update 1:30 pm EST: Ten more patients have died in Ireland from COVID-19 and the Department of Health has confirmed 200 new cases in the country.
There have been 2,615 cases of Coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland and 46 deaths related to the virus.
Of the ten people who died today, eight are male and two are female.
The median age of the deaths today was 77.
There were also 86 newly-confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Northern Ireland, bringing the total on the island of Ireland past 3,000.
There were also six deaths in Northern Ireland today.
There have been 410 cases and 21 deaths in the region and 3,025 cases and 67 deaths on the island of Ireland.
Update 2:20 pm EST: The Department of Health has confirmed 294 new cases of Coronavirus and 14 new deaths related to the illness.
There have now been 2,415 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland and 36 deaths.
The Irish Government confirmed that the median age of today's deaths is 81.
According to data relevant until March 25, 373 people over the age of 65 have been diagnosed with the virus.
The number of cases is almost identically split between age groups.
Age profile by cases pic.twitter.com/NWYX9q7cZO— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) March 28, 2020
In Northern Ireland, there were 49 newly-diagnosed cases of COVID-19, bringing the region's total to 324. Two more people died from the virus in Northern Ireland today, taking the death toll there to 15.
Update 5:15 pm EST: You can read more about the new restrictions caretaker Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced tonight here.
Update 4:50 pm EST: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tonight announced that people in Ireland cannot go further than 2km from their homes unless in certain defined circumstances from midnight tonight for a period of 2 weeks.
WATCH: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan give a briefing on the Government's response to Covid-19 | Follow live updates: https://t.co/W2t5MvPevS https://t.co/nyt44hA8Nq— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 27, 2020
Update 4:35 pm EST: President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has today signed into law the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation.
In a statement, President Higgins said: "Extraordinary and difficult measures have been necessary as we try to stem the tide of increasing infection. The effects of those measures will become visible in the coming weeks.
"The legislation is emergency legislation for a time of crisis. It is appropriate that it has time limits and leaves our constitutional rights in place.
"These are difficult times, but our difficulties will come to an end. Let us make sure that, through the decisions and actions we take at present, we ensure the health and safety of each other, all of us together."
“Let us make sure that, through the decisions and actions we take at present, we ensure the health and safety of each other, all of us together.”
Statement from President Higgins following his signature of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest: https://t.co/89zARvpm2h— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) March 27, 2020
Update 2:45 pm EST: 302 cases of coronavirus have been newly confirmed today in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 2,121 confirmed cases.
3 more coronavirus-deaths have been reported in the Republic of Ireland, raising the tally to 22 in the Republic of Ireland.
Fergal Bowers, Health Correspondent for RTE News, said that the daily press conference from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will not take place today:
It has been announced that the daily National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) Press Conference will not take place today.— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) March 27, 2020
There are now 2,396 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 576,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 26,400 deaths. There have been more than 128,300 recoveries.
Update 1:30 pm EST: 34 cases of coronavirus have been newly confirmed in Northern Ireland today, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 275.
Three more people have died in Northern Ireland, bringing the tally to 13.
4,014 individuals have been tested for coronavirus in Northern Ireland to date.
Robin Swann, the health minister for Northern Ireland, said in a statement today: "The weather forecast is good for the next few days but I would really urge everyone to resist the temptation to head out and socialise.
“We have to maintain the fightback against Covid 19. That means every one of us staying at home and regularly washing our hands thoroughly. Only leave home if it’s absolutely necessary and, if you have to go out, keep your distance from others.
“This is about protecting yourself, protecting others and protecting the health service.
“For the sake of everyone you care about, don’t take a chance this weekend.”
Minister Swann additionally addressed concerns about personal protective equipment: "Let me assure staff once again that I hear their concerns loud and clear. They will already know from my short time in office how much I value them.
“This is a very fluid situation and there is inevitably very high demand for PPE. It needs to be emphasised that we have substantial PPE in stock and it is being issued to the system, with more orders placed.
“Steps have also been taken to streamline and improve its distribution – and to ensure the independent care home and domiciliary care providers are supported.
“Ensuring the safety of all staff who are dealing with COVID-19 patients is an absolute priority. It is, of course, also essential that these products are used in line with advice.
“Demand for PPE will inevitably intensify in the days and weeks ahead.
“We are therefore taking every conceivable step to keep building up our stocks to meet this demand. It is very welcome news that key global supply chains are starting to reopen.
“We will pursue every feasible supply route, both local and international, to enhance our supplies.”
Update 4:50 pm EST: There have been 10 more coronavirus-related deaths in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 19 deaths.
225 cases of coronavirus have been newly confirmed today, bringing the total to 1,819 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland.
There are now 2,060 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 523,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 23,600 deaths. There have been more than 122,000 recoveries.
Update 4:10 pm EST: The Dáil Eireann interrupted its business to join in with the rest of Ireland to offer a round of applause to the nation's frontline workers:
Applause as a mark of thanks and respect to the workers in the front line. pic.twitter.com/qHxWybOSjq— VideoParliament Ireland (@videoparliament) March 26, 2020
New coronavirus figures are expected within the hour.
Update 2:25 pm EST: People across Ireland are being encouraged to take part in a nationwide round of applause for frontline workers at 8 pm tonight.
An image with the HSE logo circulating on social media reads: "During these unprecedented times, let us show our true appreciation for all the Nurses, Doctors, GP's, ambulance crews, carers, support staff, of our health service executive for their ongoing hard work as they continue to fight the Covid-19 Virus.
"Let us all applaud them to say Thank You on Thursday March 26 at 8pm."
"Give a big round of applause from your front door, garden, windows, living room - wherever you can to show them how much we appreciate all they are doing."
The Dail Eireann has agreed to stop their business this evening in order to take part in the round of applause:
👏🏻 The Dáil has agreed to interrupt its business at 8pm - irrespective of whatever item of business is being conducted at that time - to join in a national moment of applause for frontline workers at the vanguard of Ireland's #CoVID19 response.— Gavan Reilly (@gavreilly) March 26, 2020
Several other countries have done similar nationwide rounds of applause. A notice is also circulating in the UK for the same time tonight.
Update 11:10 am EST: 3 more coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 10 deaths.
There were 32 newly-confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern Ireland today, bringing the total to 241.
There have been 3,716 tests conducted in Northern Ireland.
New figures from the Republic of Ireland are expected later in the day.
Update 3:58 pm EST: 2 more coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 9 deaths.
The two newly reported deaths are understood to be a female patient in the East with an underlying health condition and a male in the East.
235 cases of coronavirus have been newly confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 1,564.
Dr. Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer of Ireland, said: “Our data showed yesterday that only 6% of our tests so far returned positive; so for every 100 people we test we are only finding 6 people with COVID-19. In light of this, our case definition changed.
“Changing case definition is a standard practice in managing pandemics. Ultimately, we want our 6% detected rate to increase, we want to find as many people as possible with COVID-19, isolate them and contain the spread.”
Dr. Ronan Glynn, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: “We are seeking to prioritise those who are to be tested with a focus in the short-term on those who are vulnerable and those who are at the highest risk to exposure.”
The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland is now 1,771.
Globally, there are more than 458,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 20,500 deaths. There have been more than 113,600 recoveries.
Update 11:55 pm EST: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said this morning that the Republic of Ireland is unlikely to hit the 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country by the end of the month that was earlier predicted.
He said: "The estimate of 15,000 cases by the end of the month was based on a 30 - 33 percent increase in new cases every day.
"That hasn't happened, at least not as of yet, so it looks like we're going to come certainly lower than 15,000.
"That is, of course, 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. There are many, many more cases out there that are not confirmed.
"I hope that is some evidence of some of the measures that people are taking having some effect."
He added: "We're still seeing not far off 200 new cases every day. I don't think we can start to even contemplate the idea that we're containing this virus until we start to see the number of new cases fall and fall consistently. We're nowhere near that."
Update 11:20 am EST: Northern Ireland's Department of Health has confirmed that three more people in the region have died from coronavirus, bringing the death toll to 7.
As of this morning, there were 37 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to 209 confirmed cases. 3,372 individuals have been tested to date.
New figures from the Republic of Ireland are expected later in the day.
Update 4:45 pm EST: 204 cases of coronavirus were newly confirmed in the Republic of Ireland today, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,329.
Another coronavirus-related death, a male patient with underlying health conditions in the east of the country, has also been confirmed, bringing the total to 7 deaths in the Republic of Ireland.
The HPSC said that 17,992 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the Republic of Ireland as of midnight last night.
In Northern Ireland, 24 cases of coronavirus were newly confirmed today, bringing the total in the region to 172.
Two more patients have died in Northern Ireland since yesterday, one of whom was a patient in their 80s and had underlying health conditions. Five people have now died from coronavirus in Northern Ireland.
There have been 2,989 coronavirus tests conducted in Northern Ireland.
There are now 1,501 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 414,200 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 18,500 deaths. There have been more than 107,800 recoveries.
Update 1:35 pm EST: To read about the new restrictive measures being put in place in Ireland from tonight, read here.
Update 12:20 pm EST: In a speech today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that restriction measures will remain in place until April 19 at the earliest.
Stay tuned for updates.
Update 11:30 am EST: Ireland's Department of Employment Affairs
Social Protection (DEASP) announced today that the pandemic unemployment payment will increase from €203 to €350 per week.
DEASP said in a statement: "This is an unprecedented situation which requires an emergency response from Government.
"The rate is increasing to help ordinary people and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Increasing the rate of the weekly Covid-19 emergency payment to €350 (from €203) reflects the extraordinary situation we are currently experiencing. This is to try to compensate any direct loss of earnings suffered by people as a consequence of Covid-19.
"The value of the payment is equivalent to a gross income of just under €31,000 for a single person."
Update 11:15 am EST: Ireland's Minister for Education Joe McHugh said on Galway Bay FM today that schools in Ireland will remain closed past March 29.
"They won't be opening immediately after that," TD McHugh said of the March 29 date that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on March 12 would be the tentative end of shutdown measures across the country.
"We will get confirmation, whether it's today or tomorrow, to find out what is the next date as to when the schools will be closed."
McHugh added: "My commitment to the students and for the students who are maybe having their breakfast this morning and maybe getting ready to study and really, really putting in such an effort, my commitment to them, and the Department’s commitment is, we want to make those exams happen.
McHugh went on to praise young people for responding to the unique circumstances "really, really positively."
While McHugh is dedicated to making the Leaving and Junior Cert exams happen, he acknowledged “we are going to be influenced and directed by the health experts. We don’t know where we are going to be in terms of the peak of this virus.
“I think we owe it those young people who are studying and putting in the effort to see this through to try to have these exams this year."
He clarified: "When I say this year, I mean the dates that are defined for this year. Whether it's or a project or research work that needs to be completed in May and exams in June, that’s what we are working towards.”
The Irish government is meeting today and announcements are expected later in the day.
Update: 4:40 pm EST: Ireland's Department of Health released research from a nationally representative online survey of 1,270 that was conducted today and will continue to be conducted twice weekly.
The survey found:
- 93 % of the Irish population are washing their hands more often as a result of Coronavirus.
- 90% of people know the two most common symptoms (fever or cough)
- 88% of people say they are staying at home, rather than going out
- 84% of people say they are practicing social distancing in queues
- 71% of people say they are sitting further apart from others
- 75% are confident they would know what steps to take if they developed symptoms
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: "We understand the anxiety this outbreak may be causing people. All aspects of our public health advice are constantly reviewed by the National Public Health Emergency Team and we will not hesitate to take more measures where necessary, based on epidemiological evidence and in proportion with Ireland’s experience of this outbreak.
"The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet again tomorrow morning, where we will continue to review Ireland’s response and make further recommendations where appropriate."
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: "The key response that every individual can make if they are experiencing symptoms is to self isolate. While we continue to increase testing in Ireland, in line with WHO guidelines, the most important action that can be taken against this virus is isolation and social distancing.”
Update 2:15 pm EST: 219 cases of coronavirus were newly confirmed in the Republic of Ireland today, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,125.
There have been two more coronavirus-related deaths confirmed today in the Republic of Ireland. Both patients were males in the east of the country. The total of deaths in the Republic of Ireland is now six.
There are now 1,269 cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 367,400 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 16,100 deaths. There are more than 100,800 recovered cases.
Update 12 pm EST: 20 cases of coronavirus were newly confirmed in Northern Ireland today, bringing the region's total to 148 confirmed cases.
Two people have died from coronavirus in Northern Ireland.
The total number of tests completed in the region is 2,692.
Update at 2:30 pm EST: A fourth person in the Republic of Ireland from COVID-19.
The patient was a man in the east of the country with an underlying health condition.
The Department of Health confirmed 121 new cases of Coronavirus in Ireland on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 906.
There are now more than 1,000 cases on the island of Ireland, with a further 128 cases in Northern Ireland. In total, there are 1,034 cases in Ireland.
There has also been a sharp increase in the number of patients taken into intensive care. The tally stood at 13 yesterday but has more than doubled in the past 24 hours and now stands at 29.
A total of 177 people have been hospitalized.
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said that there was a five-day delay in people getting tested for the virus and as many as 40,000 people are awaiting tests.
Update 11:20 am EST: A second person in Northern Ireland has died from COVID-19.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said that the patient was elderly and had underlying health conditions.
There were 20 newly-confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Northern Ireland, bringing the region's total to 128.
There are now 913 cases on the island of Ireland.
Update 3 pm EST: The Department of Health has confirmed 102 new cases of Coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 785.
The figure is lower than yesterday's 126 and almost half of Thursday's tally of 191 new cases, which is the highest daily increase since COVID-19 hit Irish shores on February 29.
There were also 22 cases in Northern Ireland today as the region's tally moved past 100 to 108.
In total, there have been 891 cases of Coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
The Department of Health also released further information about the first 584 cases to be confirmed in Ireland.
A significant 30% of those cases have been hospitalized, but just 13 cases (2%) have required intensive care.
Unsurprisingly, Dublin has the highest number of cases with 55% of cases diagnosed inside the capital. Cork, Ireland's second-largest city, also has the second-highest number of cases with 15%.
55% of all cases are male and 25% are associated with healthcare workers.
Update 1:20 pm EST: Italy reported 793 deaths in the past 24 hours as the country's infection toll moved past 50,000.
There were 6,557 newly-reported cases of COVID-19 reported in Italy today, bringing its tally to 53,578.
4,825 people have died in Italy since Coronavirus was first diagnosed in mid-February.
Update 11:30 am EST: Ireland's Minister for Health Simon Harris is meeting with Ireland's leading medical officials today at the Department of Health. This is the second meeting of the medical leaders' forum after an initial meeting was held on St. Patrick's Day.
Groups representing all sectors of the medical community are attending the meeting, including GPs, consultants and medical schools.
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan will address them directly and update them about the current situation.
Harris posted a video on his personal Twitter account this morning and said that Irish health authorities would do whatever they could to slow the spread of COVID-19. He also urged people to be conscious of their loved ones and "pick up the phone" and ring anyone who might be anxious about the current crisis.
Morning. Let’s be kind to each other this weekend - let’s look out for each. Keep our physical distance but still be there for each other. Just some rambling thoughts from me this Saturday morning. In this together! #coronavirus #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/9EmuP2N6F3— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 21, 2020
Update 6:30 pm EST: Ireland's Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan announced tonight that Immigration and International Protection permissions to reside in Ireland that are due to expire between March 20 and May 20 will automatically be renewed for a period of two months.
More information regarding this matter can be found here.
🚨 As part of the @DeptJusticeIRL response to #Covid_19, Min @CharlieFlanagan announces that renewals of immigration permissions are temporarily extended with immediate effect. 🚨 This measure will preserve the legal status of people with permissions about to expire soon. pic.twitter.com/WcYEs6cmsq— Department of Justice & Equality (@DeptJusticeIRL) March 20, 2020
Update 6:00 pm EST: Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced today that the following places must be closed by midnight tonight in the UK:
- Food and drink venues for consumption on-site, such as restaurants and cafes.
- Drinking establishments, including pubs, bars, nightclubs.
- Entertainment venues, including cinemas, theatres, concert halls, and bingo halls.
- Museums and galleries.
- Spas, wellness centres and massage parlours.
- Casinos and betting shops.
- All indoor leisure and sports facilities, including gyms.
The move comes more than a week after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar instituted widespread shutdowns in the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Fein) responded to the shutdown in Northern Ireland in a press conference:
Necessary measures: First Minister @DUPleader and deputy First Minister @moneillsf comment on the move to close pubs, clubs, theatres, gyms and other leisure businesses from tonight in a bid to slow the spread of #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/B5A6ciJGvS— NI Executive (@niexecutive) March 20, 2020
Update 2:00 pm EST: 126 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed today in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the country's total to 683 confirmed cases. There have been 3 coronavirus deaths in the Republic of Ireland.
While Dublin has more than half of the confirmed cases in the country, Co Monaghan is the only county without a confirmed case.
Dr. Tony Holohan said: "Now is not the time for complacency. Every citizen who is practicing social distancing, who is taking precautions to limit the spread of this virus, is doing their country a service."
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: "We are aware that the actions we must take as a nation can lead to individuals feeling isolated and anxious. Be mindful of your mental health during this time."
In Northern Ireland, nine new cases were confirmed today, bringing the total in the region to 86. The total number of tests completed in Northern Ireland is 1,816. One person has died from coronavirus in Northern Ireland.
There are now 769 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 263,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 11,100 deaths. There have been 87,300 recoveries.
Update 11 am EST: The Irish embassy in the US is urging Irish citizens currently in the US who normally reside in Ireland make arrangements to return to Ireland now.
In line with @dfatirl travel advice, we recommend Irish citizens currently in 🇺🇸 who normally reside in 🇮🇪 make arrangements to return home now. Bookings should be made through your airline but, if needed, contact details for our US missions are 👇. https://t.co/byHJW69xB6 pic.twitter.com/q1apLqNVmf— Embassy of Ireland USA (@IrelandEmbUSA) March 19, 2020
Update 6:20 pm EST: Paul Reid, CEO of Ireland's Health Service Executive, said today that more than 40k people have responded to Ireland's Health Service Executive healthcare recruitment initiative "Be On Call For Ireland."
Over 40K applications for "On Call for Ireland" in @HSELive Overwhelming support from business, communities, social groups, & individuals. We will shortly commence a really tough time but all of us in HSE are inspired by this response. Thank you all so much #COVID19— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) March 19, 2020
Update 5:20 pm EST: The Dáil Éireann has passed emergency legislation regarding Ireland's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill features two major points: social welfare payments, and detaining people who have Covid-19 if needed.
TheJournal reports that the bill will be taken for debate in the Seanad tomorrow, before being signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins this weekend.
The bill can be read here.
Update 5:10 pm EST: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a 20-minute phone call today in which they discussed the response needed from the two nations in the face of covid-19.
"They agreed on the need to keep in contact and align their actions, in so far as possible, on the matter. The Prime Minister outlined the steps he announced yesterday to close the schools. The Taoiseach welcomed this decision which had brought a greater closeness between the position in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
"They also discussed developments in Europe and internationally and agreed on the importance of close co-operation in the context of the operation of the common travel area between Britain and Ireland.
"They both expressed the wish that political parties in Northern Ireland work collaboratively in the restored Executive. They also discussed the recent British proposals concerning how to handle legacy issues."
Update 2:25 pm EST: The third coronavirus-related death has been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland. The patient was reportedly a female in the east of the country.
191 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed today, bringing the total to 557 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland. The rise in that figure is attributed to more testing being conducted.
The median age of confirmed cases is 43-years-old.
In Northern Ireland, the first coronavirus-related death was confirmed today. Nine new cases were confirmed in the region today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 77. The total number of tests completed in Northern Ireland is 1,646.
The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases on the island of Ireland is now 634.
Globally, more than 235,700 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed and more than 9,700 deaths. More than 84,900 cases have recovered.
Update 2:05 pm EST: Ireland's Minister for Education Joe McHugh has announced the cancellation of oral and practical performance tests of the state examinations which were originally scheduled to take place from Monday 23 March to Friday 3 April 2020.
All students who were due to take these tests will be awarded full marks for this portion of the exam.
I have taken this decision with the best interests of students at heart & after considering what is the fairest approach. https://t.co/sUatPP7wX9— Joe McHugh (@McHughJoeTD) March 19, 2020
The change to the 2020 state examinations means all students who were due to take oral and practical performance tests in the following subjects will be given full marks for this part of the examination:
- Oral tests in Leaving Certificate Irish and the Modern Languages of French,
- German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Japanese.
- Practical performance tests in Leaving Certificate Music.
- Practical performance tests in Junior Certificate Music and Home Economics.
Minister McHugh also confirmed changes to deadlines for students to complete project work and coursework in a number of subjects.
Students were originally scheduled to complete these elements of the state examinations on a number of dates from Friday 20 March to Friday 24 April 2020, depending on the subject.
Students will now be given until Friday 15 May 2020 to complete this work.
Minister McHugh said: “This is a difficult time for all. Students are facing a challenging period out of school and our decision on this element of the exams is being taken with their best interests at heart.
“It is the fairest response we could take in the circumstances. It guarantees that no student will score less than they would have if schools had been operating as normal.
“We have seen a new emphasis on remote learning amid the uncertainty about the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of all schools. I hope this decision will ease some of the pressure that students are feeling and allow them to focus more clearly on completing project work and preparing for written exams.”
Update 4:55 pm EST: Ireland's Department of Health has confirmed 74 new cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 366.
The breakdown of the 74 new newly confirmed cases is 45 males, 29 females.
Dublin has the highest number of cases at 129, followed by Cork (48) and Limerick (14).
The number of coronavirus deaths in the Republic of Ireland remains at two.
Dr. Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer in Ireland, said: "Again, today we are seeing another increase in case numbers. The importance of social distancing cannot be underestimated. Everyone must play their role."
“Reduce your social contacts to those in your closest family network. Practice social distancing. Stop shaking hands and hugging when you say hello.”
Earlier on March 18, six new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total in the region to 68. The total number of tests completed in Northern Ireland is 1,482.
There are now 434 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 214,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 8,700 deaths. There have been more than 83,000 recoveries.
4:40 pm EST: It was announced today that schools in Northern Ireland will close from the end of the day on Friday, March 20. The move comes after the Republic of Ireland shut down all of its schools on March 12.
Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster (DUP) and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Fein) made the announcement during a press conference earlier on March 18.
Foster said: "This is unprecedented. We are exploring how our schools can continue to be a base for the education of children whose parents are health service staff or other key workers such as the blue light services."
Later, O'Neill, who has been calling for the closure of schools in the region, tweeted:
The closure of schools is the correct and necessary move.
We will all need to work together to save lives and to mind each other.
I will continue to work actively as Joint Head of Governemnt to protect you and your family.— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) March 18, 2020
3:40 pm EST: Ireland's Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue announced measures to help people deal with the financial strain of COVID-19:
- flexible arrangements for business and personal customers with their banks - including 3-month payment breaks where necessary (customers are advised to contact their bank)
- contactless payments to increase to €50 in the interests of public health policy
- making sure that people can continue to access banking services
The GAA announced that the Connacht Senior Football Championship, scheduled for May 3 at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, NY has been postponed.
The GAA said: "The future for this fixture will be considered at a later date and in the context of the anticipated overall re-drawing of the national fixtures calendar for 2020 as necessitated by the ongoing disruption to the GAA games programme."
A number of big-name stores in Ireland announced their indefinite closure today. Penney's, who employs about 10,000, is set to shutter all 37 of its shops in the country, while Brown Thomas, Arnotts, and BT2, who employ about 4,000 in total, will close from 5 pm in Ireland until further notice.
To our Brown Thomas community,— Brown Thomas (@brownthomas) March 18, 2020
An important announcement pic.twitter.com/2JpcIAulsD
March 17 - St. Patrick's Day
Update 8:00 pm EST: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivered a historic State of the Nation address at 9 pm in Ireland. In it, he said the coronavirus fight could continue into the summer months.
Update 2:00 pm EST: There are 69 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 292 confirmed cases.
The breakdown of the newly confirmed cases is:
- 29 males and 40 females.
- 48 associated with the east of the country
- 13 associated with the south
- 5 associated with the north/west
- 3 associated with the west
There have been 2 deaths associated with COVID-19 in Ireland.
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Cooperation across the health service has never been more important and I would like to thank our colleagues in their ongoing efforts to help us to prepare for and limit the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Ronan Glynn said: “Today’s meeting emphasised the importance of us all coming together, sharing our perspectives and ensuring that our health workforces are supported and enabled to to respond dynamically at this crucial time.”
A further ten cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total in the region to 62.
Overall there are 354 cases on the island of Ireland. RTE reports that to date, 6,636 Covid-19 tests have been carried out.
Ireland launches healthcare recruitment drive
Ireland's Minister for Health Simon Harris announced a healthcare recruitment drive, 'Be On Call for Ireland.'
An appeal to help your country as we deal with #coronavirus #Covid19. We are hiring people right across the health service - https://t.co/FcV6QXr6i4 for more info and to apply. Thanks so much pic.twitter.com/XAPhk14Bo4— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 17, 2020
Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) said: "We are asking all healthcare professionals from all disciplines who are not already working in the public health service to register to be on call for Ireland.
"We will be creating extra hospital and care beds and will need extra hands to provide the care that’s needed. We need your help to meet the challenge that’s ahead.
"Maybe you aren’t a healthcare professional, maybe you’re studying to be one, or maybe you have other skills to offer or just want to volunteer to do your bit if needed.
"Hopefully we won’t need to call, and if we do, we may not need every one of you. But knowing you are there if we do will make all the difference."
World Health Organisation commends Irish government's actions
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the Irish government is heading in the right direction with the manor in which they are dealing with Coronavirus COVID-19.
Ireland's Minister for Health Simon Harris spoke with the WHO via teleconference on St. Patrick's Day. He said it is "so important we work together on this global pandemic."
Doctor David Nabarro, the WHO special envoy for the global COVID-19, said "I think the world is waking up to the reality of the enormous threat that this unseen enemy is offering us.
"It really is an epic struggle and it takes time for each one of us to realize what this means."
Home of GAA - Croke Park opens as COVID-19 test facility
On St. Patrick's Day, March 17, Croke Park, in the north of Dublin city, will open as a drive-thru facility for testing for COVID-19, for designated appointments only.
A message was sent to local residents which read:
"This will not be a walk-up service.
"The stadium layout has been identified as being suitable for facilitating this important service at this time.
"As soon as we have further information, we will share it with you."
Irish government to nationalize private hospitals for needed beds
Also on St. Patrick's Day it was confirmed that the Irish government are considering taking over private hospitals in an effort to combat the Coronavirus outbreak.
There are 2,500 beds in the private hospital sector in Ireland. A number of these are intensive care unit beds.
Sinn Féin's Health spokesperson Louise O'Reilly said "We have limited capacity in our public hospitals, and while alternative settings of care are being identified and made available to treat patients, it is also important that private hospital capacity is at the ready," she said.
"Yesterday, Spain took all private hospitals under public control as the country combats Coronavirus - we must stand ready to do the same."
Update 5 pm EST: There are 54 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total to 223.
The HPSC said the breakdown is 30 males and 24 females.
- 41 are associated with the east of the country
- 11 are associated with the south
- 2 are associated with the north/west of the country
There have been 2 deaths associated with COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, as of Monday, March 16, testing has resulted in 7 new positive cases bringing the total number of positive cases in the region to 52.
There are now 275 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Update 3:45 pm EST: Ireland's National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommends today that "all Irish residents be advised against all non-essential travel overseas at this time until 29th March."
NPHET additionally "strongly recommends against leisure cruise ship travel at this time."
The Team "recommends that all persons, including Irish residents, entering the country from overseas should restrict movement for 14 days, if asymptomatic. This does not apply to Northern Ireland at this time. This measure applies prospectively." This recommendation does not apply to "essential supply chain workers."
Today the National Public Health Emergency Team met on Covid-19. It made some important recommendations including advising against non-essential travel overseas. See letter from @CMOIreland below: #COVID19 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/8ZOAJq8GiR— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 16, 2020
Update 3:05 pm EST: Local residents were today informed that Croke Park in Dublin will be used as an appointment-only drive through coronavirus testing site.
A notice read: "Following a high-level request from the HSE today and in the national interest, Croke Park is to become a drive-thru facility for testing for Covid-19 for designated appointments.
"This will not be a walk-up service. The stadium layout has been identified as being suitable for facilitating this important service at this time. As soon as we have further information, we will share with you."
Update 2:20 pm EST: There are 40 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 169.
According to the HPSC, the breakdown of the 40 new cases is:
- 23 males, 17 females
- 25 are associated with the east of the country
- 9 are associated with the west,
- 6 are associated with the south
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “In regard to upcoming St Patrick’s Day celebrations, the Government is calling on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any parties in private house or other venues which would put other peoples lives at risk.
“Everyone is asked to reduce their social contact over this time period. House parties/ COVID parties carry the same risks as being in a pub/club.
"Therefore people should not organise or attend them. The virus is now in our community, it is up to us to limit its spread.
“Now is the time for action and to heed the public health advise we will continue to provide.”
Eleven new cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland earlier on Sunday, bringing the total number in the region to 45.
There are now 214 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Update 1:30 pm EST: The Irish Government has called on all pubs in Ireland, including hotel bars, to close from this evening until March 29 at the earliest.
Minister for Health Simon Harris confirmed the announcement at Government Buildings following discussions with the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
Harris said that he expects all 7,000 pubs throughout the country to close, which will affect more than 50,000 bar staff.
Breaking: All pubs asked to close from midnight. pic.twitter.com/o90Yj5MEVy— Richard Chambers (@newschambers) March 15, 2020
The Irish Government is also calling on people to avoid going to house parties or other venues on St. Patrick's Day in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.
There was a campaign on social media to close Irish pubs after videos surfaced that showed crowded pubs in Temple Bar on Saturday night.
Update 2:20 pm EST: There are 39 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland. Another death has been recorded. There are now 129 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland.
Update 1:05 pm EST: Ireland and the UK have been added to the US travel ban, effective midnight EST on March 16. American citizens and legal residents will still be permitted to enter the US during that period, but will be funneled through one of 13 designated airports for processing.
Update 12:20 pm EST: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel is now urging a "high degree of caution" if making travel plans to Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Spain.
Italy is still designated under the "do not travel" advisory from Ireland.
Many countries imposing travel restrictions due to #COVID19 Irish citizens should now exercise a high degree of caution when making travel plans.@dfatirl now advising against non-essential travel to Czech, Cyprus, Denmark, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Spain & No travel to Italy. pic.twitter.com/mGTdFjJint— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) March 14, 2020
Update 12:15 pm EST: The J1 visa program in the US has been suspended for 60 days:
US Embassy in Dublin has confirmed that the J1 visa programme, which is popular among Irish students, is being suspended by the US Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs for 60 days.— Fergal Bowers (@FergalBowers) March 14, 2020
Update 7:35 am EST: Political leaders and health officials in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are meeting today in a special, cross-border Ministerial Council in County Armagh.
Taoiseach Leo Vararkar, Tanáiste Simon Coveney, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill all attended the council among other high-profile cabinet members on both sides of the Irish border.
Varadkar said that COVID-19 is a virus that "knows no borders" ahead of the meeting.
"Our response to it is made more difficult as we do have two jurisdictions on this island," he said.
Ministers are exercising social distancing at today’s North South Ministerial Council meeting in Armagh.March 14, 2020
The Irish Government decided Thursday to close all schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland for more than two weeks. The Northern Irish Government has not taken this approach and presently listens to advice from the British Government in London.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill favors implementing the Irish policies.
Update 8:20 pm EST: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs and Travel (DFAT) is now advising people to exercise "a high degree of caution" if traveling to other EU States.
The DFA has placed Italy under a "do not travel" advisory, and China, Iran, and Spain under a "avoid non-essential travel" advisory.
NB TRAVEL ADVICE: 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. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/5ai8U4SGiH— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) March 13, 2020
Update 2:15 pm EST: Ireland's Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has been informed of 20 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.
- 6 cases are associated with travel
- 12 are associated with contacts of confirmed cases, 4 of which are healthcare workers
- 2 cases are associated with community transmission
There are now 90 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland. There has been one death.
The National Public Health Emergency Team met on March 12 to review Ireland’s response to COVID-19 preparedness. The following decisions were made;
- Case Definition updated: Symptoms of new onset fever of 38 degrees or more, or chills and/or symptoms of respiratory tract infections including cough will be considered when assessing the requirement for testing.
- All people returning from areas identified on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) website for avoidance of non-essential travel, should restrict their movements for 14 days.
- Discharge criteria for self-isolating confirmed cases, as recommended by the Expert Advisory Group, has been approved for implementation.
- EAG will consider travel restrictions for healthcare workers
Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said: “The National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor the ongoing threat of this virus and will take actions where necessary.
“For people returning from areas affected by COVID-19, we strongly encourage the individual to restrict their movements."
Dr. Ronan Glynn, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “We appreciate these measures have a significant impact on the daily lives of families. However, they are necessary for the public good.
“Parents should try and avoid arranging play dates for groups of young children at this early stage of the outbreak.
“However, rather than staying indoors, consider outdoor activities such as playing football in the open in small groups of 3 or 4 while maintaining social distancing of 2 metres.
“This is a time to be mindful of the public health guidelines and apply these measures to your daily lives.”
In Northern Ireland, the Public Health Agency said: "As of 2 pm on 13 March 2020, there have been 321 concluded tests since testing began, of which 292 were negative, and 29 were positive."
There are now 119 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.
Globally, there are more than 137,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 5,000 deaths. More than 69,000 cases have recovered.
Update 1:30 pm EST: For the first time in its history, the kissing of the Blarney Stone has been prohibited until further notice:
For the first time in our history the kissing of the Blarney Stone has been postponed until further notice.
The castle & gardens are still open and we would like to reassure all our visitors that we are doing everything possible to provide a safe experience.— Blarney Castle & Gardens (@Blarney_Castle) March 13, 2020
Aer Lingus has announced that it is waiving its flight-change and rebooking fees through March 25:
Bookings for travel up to 31 May on our network will not be charged change fees to re-book to another date or route. Changes to bookings should be made no later than 25 March using ‘Manage Trip’ on https://t.co/wpVnwVplQG. A fare difference may apply.— Aer Lingus (@AerLingus) March 13, 2020
Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Féin) is calling for the region's schools to be closed. On March 12, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced, among other restrictions, that all schools in the Republic of Ireland will be closed from March 13 - March 29.
I believe now is the time to take action and to close schools, universities and colleges.
That must happen immediately.March 13, 2020
Minister for Health Simon Harris said that people returning to Ireland from Spain and or Italy will be presented with information at Irish airports and are being instructed to "restrict their movements" for the next two weeks, including not going to work.
While Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, is on total lockdown, 60,000 people in Spain were ordered into lockdown on March 12.
Harris clarified that people returning to Ireland from the Cheltenham Festival in the UK will receive information upon their return home, but they will not be under any similar restrictions as people returning from Spain and or Italy.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has said all people coming back from Spain and Italy are being asked to restrict their movements for the next two weeks, which means not going to work | Read more coronavirus coverage: https://t.co/839hgCRs1u pic.twitter.com/9kqQLzY8Ck— RTÉ News (@rtenews) March 13, 2020
Updated 2:20 pm EST: 27 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed today in Ireland with six patients being cared for in ICUs.
- 22 cases associated with local transmission
- Two associated with community transmission,
- Three associated with travel
There are now 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland, an increase from the 43 confirmed cases on March 11.
There are 20 cases in Northern Ireland as of March 12, bringing the total number of cases on the island of Ireland to 90.
Updated 2:05 pm EST: The GAA has confirmed the suspension of all activities through March 29.
It said in a statement: "In light of this morning’s Government announcement, the GAA, An Cumann Camógaíochta and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association have decided to suspend all activity at club, county and educational levels until March 29 (inclusive) from midnight.
"This is to include all games, training and team gatherings at all ages and all grades."
Updated at 12:30 pm GMT: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that all schools, colleges, and childcare facilities will close in Ireland in a bid to delay the spread of coronavirus.
Additionally, outdoor public gatherings of more than 500 people and indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have also been canceled.
Bars, restaurants, and cafes may remain open, but managers are being asked to implement "social distancing" measures. Public transport will remain operational.
Varadkar said the measures will come into full effect on Friday, March 13 and be in place until Sunday, March 29.
Ireland has now moved from the "containment" phase to "delay" phase.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said that all tourist attractions and cultural institutions will also be closed over the same period.
The Irish Government is calling on people to work from home where possible to curb the spread of the virus.
There are now 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland.
On Thursday, March 12, the Mater Hospital in Dublin canceled most surgeries and appointments as well as imposing a blanket ban on children visiting the hospital.
The Mater Hospital is limiting activity at the hospital to essential services only from TODAY (Thursday 12th March).This means that all outpatient appointments and elective surgeries will be limited to essential services only until further notice.— Mater Hospital Trauma (@MaterTrauma) March 12, 2020
On March 11, Ireland's Health Service Executive (HSE) announced nine new cases of the virus, bring the total in the Republic of Ireland to 43. There are also 18 cases of the virus in Northern Ireland, bringing the total on the island of Ireland to 61.
A patient died on Wednesday, becoming the first person in Ireland to die from coronavirus. She was believed to be have had prior underlying health conditions.
A number of high-profile events in Ireland have fallen victim to the outbreak of the virus.
All across the country, St. Patrick's Day parades were canceled on Monday amid fears of spreading the virus even further.
The virus has also impacted several Irish sporting events.
The Irish Government postponed a Six Nations rugby match between Ireland and Italy at the beginning of March after Italy reported a spike in infections.
Italy is by far the worst affected European nation and, with over 12,000 cases of COVID-19, has seen the worst outbreak of the virus outside China.
Ireland's following Six Nations game with France in Paris was also postponed when the French Government placed a ban on public gatherings of 1,000 people or more.
France's COVID-19 tally has surged past 2,000 in the last few days.
In soccer, Ireland's crucial Euro 2020 playoff with Slovakia in Bratislava will be played behind closed doors. Around 2,200 Irish fans had tickets for the match, which is set to take place on Thursday, March 26.
The virus has wreaked havoc across Western Europe and the Department of Foreign Affairs has advised Irish people not to travel to Italy. It also advises any Irish people who have recently returned from Italy to place themselves in self-isolation immediately.
On March 11, the Department of Foreign Affairs advised against non-essential travel to some parts of Spain, which has seen a particularly bad spike in infections.
TRAVEL ADVICE 2/2: re #COVID19 .This evening we are upgrading our overall security status in respect of Spain to “exercise a high degree of caution” & advising against non-essential travel to the following areas: Madrid, Vitoria & Labastida in the Basque Country and La Rioja.— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) March 11, 2020
US President Trump announced on March 11 that a ban on travel from Europe to the US (not including the UK) will go into effect on March 13. The DHS later clarified that the ban is only subject to nations in the Schengen Zone, and Ireland is therefore not included.
Hospitals across Ireland have imposed an almost total ban on visitors to curb the spread of infections.
The University of Limerick Hospital Group, which consists of six hospitals in the west of the country, has banned visitors with some exceptions, including parents visiting young children and visitors visiting patients who are close to death.
The UL Hospital Group also canceled all outpatient appointments and elective surgeries until Wednesday, but it is unclear whether that will be extended.
The first case of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland was reported on February 29. It soon led to a two-week closure of a school in Dublin.