The public has been urged not to panic as a record 27 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed and drastic new measures were introduced to slow the spread of the virus.
The measures include closing schools and cultural institutions and the curbing of large gatherings.
The announcement by the Taoiseach sparked panic, with many people flocking to supermarkets to stockpile goods. Images of large queues, empty shelves, and full trolleys circulated on social media.
However, retail groups have urged the public to remain calm and said the country is prepared to supply all grocery outlets for the coming months.
“Social media images of empty shelves are simply sensationalising the matter. These shelves are restocked every evening and restocking will continue into the future,” Retail Excellence Ireland said.
Twenty-seven new cases of coronavirus were announced by health officials last night. There are now 70 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic. Six people are in intensive care.
Twenty-two of the new cases were associated with local transmission. Two cases were due to community transmission and three were associated with travel.
The first case in the Republic was announced just 13 days ago.
Despite reports of a second death, chief medical officer Tony Holohan said they had not been notified of one.
He said the possibility of more cases than the number currently diagnosed is “a real one”.
Unprecedented measures were announced yesterday afternoon to slow the spread of the virus.
- Schools, universities, and cultural institutions will close until March 29. Indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled;
- Public transport will continue to operate and people should continue to go to work, but those who can work from should do so;
- Shops, cafes, and restaurants will remain open, if they choose to do so, but they have been advised to be mindful of social distancing recommendations;
- All GAA, football, and rugby activities have been suspended, while horse racing will continue behind closed doors.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar urged people to pull together.
“I know that some of this is coming as a real shock and it is going to involve big changes in the way we live our lives,” he said. “I know that I am asking people to make enormous sacrifices. We’re doing it for each other.”
Globally, efforts to slow the spread of the virus are on the increase.
Italy has now registered 15,113 confirmed cases and the death toll in the country hit 1,016.
The country saw its first cases in mid-February and more than half of those in intensive care are in the Lombardy province.
- The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
- Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999
The UK has moved onto the next stage of its response, which could see restrictions imposed in the coming days. Two more deaths were announced in British hospitals. Ten people have now died in the UK after testing positive for Covid-19.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is self-isolating after his wife displayed mild flu-like symptoms, while Norway and India both reported their first deaths from the virus yesterday.