There are now 292 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Republic of Ireland, after 69 new cases were reported on St Patrick's Day.
According to the Department of Health, the new cases involve 40 females and 29 males. Forty-eight of these are in the east of the country, 13 are in the south, five are in the north/west and three are in the west.
A further 62 cases have also been confirmed in Northern Ireland.
There have been two deaths associated with COVID-19 so far in Ireland.
Following a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Monday, it is advising the public of the following decisions:
-All Irish residents are advised against all non-essential travel overseas at this time until March 29.
-All persons, including Irish residents, entering the country from overseas should restrict movements for 14 days, if asymptomatic. This does not apply to Northern Ireland.
-The NPHET strongly recommends against leisure cruise ship travel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on all countries to test every suspected case of COVID-19. The department emphasised that the number of testing sites in Ireland "will increase over the coming week".
"We are working closely with the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) to manage the rapid increase in requests for testing.
"If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, self isolate and phone your GP, who will assess your need for a test. We ask people to be patient as we increase the number of staff and testing centres to accommodate the increased requirement for testing," commented Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer with the HSE.
Meanwhile, according to the department's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, the behaviours we adopt in the next seven days "will form the template for how we interrupt the spread of this virus over the coming months".
"We need to sustain social distancing, respiratory hygiene and these new ways of behaving if we are to succeed in minimising the threat posed by COVID-19," he said.
Research published by Amárach has shown that 84% of the population know the symptoms of the illness, while 78% are staying at home more often. Some 45% of all employees have started working from home.
"These findings are very positive and demonstrate the efforts that so many people across society are making to protect our communities. The challenge now is build on and sustain this momentum over the coming weeks," commented the department's deputy chief medical officer, Dr Ronan Glynn.
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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