Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the fight against coronavirus could go into the summer months.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivered a historic State of the Nation address on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, as the country continues to grapple with the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.

Varadkar addressed Ireland under Section 112 of the Broadcasting Act, which is only used at times of national emergency.

Ministerial Broadcast by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

WATCH: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar delivers Ministerial Broadcast to the country about the Covid-19 pandemic | Read more:

Publiée par RTÉ News sur Mardi 17 mars 2020

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In his speech, Varadkar said that Ireland is estimated to have 15,000 or more confirmed cases of coronavirus by the end of March, a figure which is expected to rise in the weeks thereafter.

“We can’t stop the virus," Varadkar said, "but working together, we can slow it in its tracks and push it back. We can flatten the curve, but only if everyone takes sustained action; nothing else will do.”

Varadkar acknowledged the sacrifice that individuals are being forced to make, but added that “more will be required in the coming weeks.”

He continued: “Many of you want to know when this will be over. The truth is, we just don’t know yet. This emergency is likely to go on well beyond March 29; it could go on for months into the summer, so we need to be sensible in the approaches we take.”

The Taoiseach assured that “essential shops, workplaces, and public transport will continue to operate,” but added “we’re asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other.

“The most basic messages of washing your hands properly and practicing good hygiene around sneezing and coughing are still the most important.

“If you have a new cough that isn’t going away, or a high temperature, or both, stay at home, phone your doctor, and a test will be arranged for you within a few days.

Varadkar said that “cocooning,” where the elderly and people with longterm illnesses are asked to remain home for a number of weeks, could come into effect.

Noting Ireland's "fantastic community spirit," the Taoiseach encouraged the public to continue to check in on neighbors and people who live alone.

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Paying special homage to Ireland's healthcare workers, Varadkar said: “Not all superheroes wear capes, some wear scrubs and gowns. And all of our healthcare workers need us to do the right thing in the weeks ahead."

Varadkar said: “This is the calm before the storm, before the surge. And when it comes, and it will come, never will so many ask so much of so few. We’ll do all that we can to support them.”

Regarding the impact already being felt on the economy, Varadkar said: “I know this is causing huge stress and anxiety to you and your families on top of the fear of the virus.

“You’ll receive income support as quickly and efficiently as possible. And when we’re through the worst, we will get people back to work and get businesses open again.

“Everyone in our society must show solidarity at this time of national sacrifice,” he said, adding that for those people have lost their jobs or have had income reduced, “there will be help and understanding from those that can give it, particularly the banks, government bodies, and utilities.

“I’m confident that our economy will bounce back, but the damage will be significant and lasting. The bill will be enormous, and it may take years to pay it."

Noting that Ireland "will get through this, and we will prevail," Varadkar insisted that the public consume and share information from trusted sources including the government, the Irish health service, the World Health Organization, and the national media.

"We need to halt the spread of the virus, but we also need to halt the spread of fear," he said, adding, “We must insulate our communities and the most vulnerable from the contagion of fear. Fear is a virus in of itself.”

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Concluding his speech with a message of hope, Varadkar said: “Tonight, on our national holiday, I want to send a message around the world: we are in this together.

“To the people of China, Spain, and Italy, who have suffered untold heartbreak and loss, we are with you.

“To everyone who has lost a loved one to this virus, we are with you.

“To all those who are living in the shadow of what is to come, we are with you.

“Viruses pay no attention to borders, race, nationality, or gender. They are the shared enemy of all humanity. And so will be a shared enterprise of all humanity that finds a treatment and a vaccine that protects us.

“Tonight I send a message of friendship and of hope from Ireland to everyone around the world.

At the time of his address, there were 292 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland and two deaths. Including Northern Ireland, there are 354 confirmed cases of coronavirus on the island of Ireland.

Globally, there are more than 196,600 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 7,800 deaths. There have been more than 80,800 recoveries.