Forty new cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have been confirmed today - 23 males and 17 females, the Department of Health has said.
There are now 169 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland, with a further 45 confirmed cases in Northern Ireland.
Of the 40 new cases, 25 are in the east of the country, nine are in the west and six are in the south.
So far, two people have died from the illness here.
The Government has called on all pubs and bars, including hotel bars, to close from this evening (March 15) until at least March 29. Earlier in the day, all pubs in the Temple Bar area decided to shut with immediate effect. The area had come in for strong criticism on Saturday night due to the huge number of people visiting pubs there.
Meanwhile, the chief medical officer of the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, has called on all members of the public not to organise or participate in any St Patrick's Day celebrations, whether they are in private houses or other venues, as these could put people's 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," he commented.
The department also emphasised the extraordinary conditions healthcare workers are currently working under.
"If all citizens work together and comply with social distancing guidelines, and other measures the Government may take in the coming weeks, we will have a stronger response to this virus. Help our healthcare workers in their task," commented the department's deputy chief nurse, Rachel Kenna.
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. Some 80% of cases will be mild to moderate, 14% will be more severe, while 6% will be critical.
To limit the spread of COVID-19, people should:
-Practice social distancing and avoid crowded places
-Wash their hands properly and often
-Cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze, or cough and sneeze into their elbow
-Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
-Stay at home if they are sick to avoid spread of whatever infection they have.
For more information on COVID-19, click here.
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