Schools and colleges closed

Restrictions in place until March 29
  • Deborah Condon

Schools, colleges and childcare facilities have been closed since 6pm on Thursday, March 12, in response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Speaking in Washington on Thursday, where he was visiting as part of the St Patrick's Day celebrations, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that these restrictions will remain in place until March 29.

People have been advised that they can continue going to work, but if they can work remotely, to do so.

Cultural institutions have also closed, while indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been cancelled. Outdoor gatherings involving more than 500 people have also be cancelled.

Shops, restaurants and cafes can stay open, however people are being asked to minimise social interaction as much as possible.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health confirmed 27 new cases of the virus on Thursday evening - the biggest daily jump yet. The total number of cases in the Republic is now 70.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the first death relating to COVID-19 had occurred in Ireland. The female in the east was older and had an underlying illness.

Also on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the spread of COVID-19 can now be declared a pandemic. A pandemic refers to the worldwide spread of a new disease. So far, over 118,000 cases of COVID-19 have been recorded in 114 countries worldwide. More than 4,200 people have died.

The WHO said it is "deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction" in some areas.

Covid-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person's body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.

It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of the virus to show. These may include a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and fever (high temperature).

COVID-19 can also cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and severe breathing difficulties.

Everyone is asked to follow public health advice, including the following protective measures:
-Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
-Maintain at least one metre (three feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing/sneezing
-Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
-Practice cough and sneeze hygiene - covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough/sneeze. Then dispose of the tissue immediately.

Anyone who has been to an affected region (mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and northern Italy) in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms, should self-isolate and call their GP.

Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should immediately self-isolate and call their GP.

For more information on COVID-19, click here or here.

 


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