Encouraging signs that country will be able to start easing restrictions - CMO

Encouraging signs that country will be able to start easing restrictions - CMO

The Chief Medical Officer says there are encouraging signs the country will be in a position to start easing the lockdown next week.

Phase one of the government's plan is due to begin on Monday and includes the resumption of outdoor work and the reopening of some retail stores.

A final decision will be made later this week, once updated advice is provided by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

It comes as new figures show there are 23,242 confirmed cases of the virus while 1,488 people have died.

Dr Tony Holohan says there are good signs progress is being made in a number of important areas.

"Our reproduction number is where we want it to be and the level of infection that we are detecting in the community now with the positivity rate at around 3% is giving us a sense of encouragement in relation to where we will be and our readiness to move on.

"But that is not to say that today is the day. If we are going to be easing restrictions, it will be in respect of an assessment we will formally do at the end of this week."

Health chiefs are set to advise commuters and shoppers to wear homemade facemasks later this week.

Dr Holohan confirmed that the public would be urged to wear face coverings in certain public settings, such as in shops or on public transport, as the country began to ease restrictions.

John Molloy owns Azzurri Sport in Waterford and has turned his factory over to making protective gear for health workers.

He says he is expecting to receive official guidance on how to make a reusable mask for use by the general public very soon.

"There is a committee working at the moment chaired by the National Standards Authority of Ireland and they are developing a face mask specification.

"It is a guideline for use by the general public. It will be called Swift 19 Barrier Mask.

"People are actively working on it all week. I believe that they hope to have it launched by the end of this week or early next week."

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