The President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, Professor Mary Horgan has said that there is a lot of hospital and community preparation underway in anticipation of an increase in testing for Covid-19.
One infected person, she warned, could infect more than 400 others within 30 days, so testing is very important.
Prof Horgan, who is an infectious disease consultant at Cork University Hospital and University College Cork, said test centres around the country will be expanded which will reduce the turn-around time for tests.
30,000 new coronavirus testing
Testing healthcare staff would be a priority because they are needed on the front line, she explained.
The public has a role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones through social distancing, she said, adding that the science shows that social distancing works and protects the most vulnerable, who have a low chance of contracting the disease if they practise it.
Dr Horgan said that while there is a rush to get new drugs out there to deal with this virus, they must be properly tested.
Meanwhile, outgoing social protection minister Regina Doherty has said that the severity of the coronavirus had “only dawned on some people” last weekend.
The majority of people are doing what is required of them, she told Newstalk Breakfast.
Measures such as social distancing and coughing etiquette will become more commonplace, she said. In the past the public had adapted to measures such as the smoking ban and they would do so now.
Ms Doherty urged all supermarkets to implement social distancing measures.
In the event that some people are not prepared to adhere to social distancing measures then new legislation will give powers to the authorities to ensure that they do, she said.
The Dáil is due to sit later to pass the emergency legislation to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
However, just a third of TDs have been asked to come to Leinster House
Health legislation will be changed “in the event we ever need it.”
Ms Doherty added that her department had moved to offer income support for people who have lost their job because of the virus. These changes would help at this difficult time.