Coronavirus: ‘Make others stick to distance rules’

Health Minister Simon Harris also pleaded with people to “keep your distance”.

Coronavirus: ‘Make others stick to distance rules’

By Liz Dunphy, Noel Baker, Olivia Kelleher, and Juno McEnroe

People have been urged to “confront families, peers, and communities” if they are not taking rigorous social distancing seriously, which if done properly, will save “thousands” of lives, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has said.

Health Minister Simon Harris also pleaded with people to “keep your distance”.

“Doctors have the ability to save hundreds of lives but people have the ability to save many thousands of lives,” he said at a briefing at the Department of Health.

Fears that some pubs were not obeying the opening ban were raised before three men were found hiding out in a West Cork pub cold room.

Gardaí sent to investigate the premises following a tip-off first found a number of pints on the table but no customers.

When they discovered the men in the cold room, one claimed that it was a “safer place” to escape Covid-19, Virgin Media News reports.

It comes as a further 126 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday — a fall from the 191 new cases announced on Thursday — which which brings the total to 683 cases in the Republic.

However, chief medical officer Tony Holohan warned a rise is still coming, and not to confuse this short-term dip with a retraction of the virus.

“We’re still at the early stage,” he said. “These are small numbers compared to what we are likely to see.”

Three people have died from Covid-19 in the Republic. The first two had underlying health conditions but the third did not, he said.

The median age of confirmed cases is 44.

Dublin has the highest number of cases at 51%, followed by Cork at 15%, and Limerick and Wicklow have 3% of cases each.

Mr Coveney urged anyone abroad who wants to come home to do so quickly, as “there is no guarantee air routes will continue to operate for the coming weeks.”

Meanwhile, more children have been calling Childline since schools closed due to Covid-19, with an increase in people expressing heightened anxiety.

The 24/7 service is operated by the ISPCC and is still running from its six units countrywide, with social distancing and other measures being observed.

Emergency Covid-19 legislation has been passed, giving the State sweeping additional powers to detain those who do not self-isolate, to restrict travel, and to provide financial support throughout the crisis.

Meanwhile, HSE CEO Paul Reid admitted Ireland is now fighting a “war” as volunteer groups mobilised an “army” of helpers to assist the vulnerable and isolated.

“It is a war against a very silent and dangerous enemy,” he said.

It is not one we can win with armed forces. It is one that we can win with communities.

And Mr Harris called for private health services to open their doors to Covid-19 patients and said talks were under way with such operators and hotel owners.

He said there were 500 public ventilators in Ireland, 1,000 other respiratory machines, and public hospitals were set to have 250 ICU beds. But private hospitals have some 1,900 beds and 164 ventilator rooms, he said.

Meanwhile, a Dublin woman with a sick baby is appealing for help after getting trapped in Peru because of the pandemic.

Caia Daly, 37, flew to Lima with her husband, Carlos Abisrror, who is originally from Peru, and their two children in February.

Their nine-month-old baby is recovering after being hospitalised with pneumonia but their Air France flight back to London, scheduled for last night, was cancelled after the country closed its borders.

“If things get really bad here, I’m worried for my children’s health,” Ms Daly told PA. “We’re just really looking for a way to get out.”

The annual Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which attracts 750,000 people and was scheduled for August in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, has become the latest event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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