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Coronavirus: Health chief insists Republic will not enter lockdown as new cases confirmed

Ireland’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he wanted to dispel rumours circulating on social media that the country would ‘lock down’.

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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Ireland’s chief medical officer has dispelled rumours the country may enter a lockdown situation.

On Friday, all schools, creches and colleges shut down across the Republic of Ireland in a bid to halt the spread of Covid-19.

The Government dismissed rumours that it plans to announce a “status red” emergency next week due to the coronavirus crisis.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said: “I want to be very clear that there are no such plans in place.”

At Friday evening’s media briefing on Covid-19, Dr Tony Holohan responded to rumours that the country would be under a “status red lockdown” in the coming days.

He said: “I have heard those rumours from my own family and on the street and they are not true. This is not part of our plan. We are not locking down the country. We have no plans to lock down the country.

“The measures introduced today have obviously created challenges for normal family life and for community life and people’s working lives but it is not a lockdown situation.

“I want to repeat emphatically, we are not locking down the country – we have heard rumour about soldiers and gardai on the streets and so on but we have no plan to do anything like that.”

It comes as 20 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number to 90.

– Six of the cases are associated with travel.

– 12 are associated with contacts of a confirmed case, four of which are healthcare workers.

– Two cases are associated with community transmission.

There have been nine new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland, bringing the total number of cases to 29.

There are now 119 confirmed cases on the island of Ireland.

Dr Holohan said the National Public Health Emergency Team will continue to monitor the ongoing threat of this virus and will take actions where necessary.

He said: “For people returning from areas affected by Covid-19, we strongly encourage the individual to restrict their movements.”

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said children can still play together but parents and guardians must be mindful of the Department of Health guidelines.

He said: “Children still need to have a normal life and we recognise that children will still play together.

“What we are asking is that parents use their discretion and follow the guidelines.”

Following a meeting on Thursday night, the National Public Health Emergency Team made the decision to update the case definition.

Symptoms of new onset fever of 38 degrees or more, or chills and/or symptoms of respiratory tract infections including cough will be considered when assessing the requirement for testing.

PA