From left: Minister for Health Simon Harris, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan this morning
Government Buildings, Dublin 2
Minister for Health Simon Harris said said we must reduce our social contacts to help slow the spread of the virus.
Simon Coveney said the radical measures will be a lot for the Irish public to take in
“We are asking Irish people to stay apart,” he said.
All schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland to close from Friday until 29 March
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 12, 2020
Washington DC, USA.
In his address, Mr Varadkar said there will be “many more” cases of the coronavirus, “more people will get sick” and “more people will die”.
He said the virus is “all over the world” but it “can be slowed” and the impact can be “reduced” which would make things easier for our health service to “cope” and, in time, for scientists to create a vaccine.
The Taoiseach said it should be noted that the effects of the virus will be “mild” for the majority of the people but that elderly people, and people will chronic illnesses, are at “real risk”.
He said people in Ireland have a “duty” to protect others including grandparents, friends, neighbours and co-workers.
Mr Varadkar said “we” have not witnessed a pandemic of this kind before and it is “unchartered territory for us”.
He added: “We said we’d take the right actions at the right time.”
He then went on to say that, from 6pm this evening, until March 29, all schools, colleges, childcare facilties will close.
There may be some teaching facilities online, where possible, while all cultural instutisions will also close.
He said all indoor gatherings of more than 100 people should be cancelled; and outdoor gathering of more than 500 people should also be cancelled.
He said anyone who enters Ireland, who show symptoms of the virus, should self-isolate.
Mr Varadkar went on to encourage people to continue to go to work if they can but said break times should be staggered and meetings should be held remotely, if possible.
He said public transport will continue and shops will stay open. He said everything will be done to ensure the supply chains will not be disrupted.
He called for people to take a sensible, level-headed approach “during this difficult” time before adding that restaurants and cafés can stay open but asked that owners look at ways to facilitate “social distancing”.
He also called on people to reduce their social interactions as much as possible.
The Taoiseach also repeated the guidelines about hand washing and sneezing into one’s elbow.
He said healthcare workers have been at forefront since start of this crisis and said they’ll be at frontline in the time ahead. “We must do all we can to help them,” he said.
Mr Varadkar said he knows these measures are a “shock” and that they involve “big changes”. He said people are being asked to make “enormous sacrifices”. But, he said, “we’re doing it for each other”.
He said “together, we can slow the virus and push it back” and save many lives.
“Our economy will suffer but it will bounce back,” he said.
He said: “We need to look out for each other…Ireland is a great nation, we’re a great people…We’ve endured hardship before… and many trials in the past..with our determination…we will prevail.”
More as we get it.
Pic Brian ODonovan
Government Buildings, Dublin 2.
Members of the media watching Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s address from Washington.