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Coronavirus: Irish citizens urged not to travel overseas until March 29 as 54 new cases confirmed

54 new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in the Republic of Ireland.

In total 223 people in the Republic have tested positive for Covid-19 and more are expected.

This comes as Irish citizens are being urged not to travel abroad before March 29, including to England.

The request to stop non-essential travel does not apply to Northern Ireland.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney has revealed that all people coming into the Republic of Ireland will also be asked to limit their social contacts for two weeks.

Mr Coveney also warned there will be “enormous disruption” to air travel in the coming days across Europe and said he could not guarantee when people would be able to return home.

“Non-essential travel effectively means people who are choosing to go overseas and don’t need to, they shouldn’t be doing it. That is now our clear health advice and also travel advice,” he said.

“We can’t be sure they can get back,” he added.

Mr Coveney also said he has been told by airlines across Europe that they will be grounding their fleets in the coming days.

“We are also seeing other EU countries closing borders, closing airports and not facilitating air transport in and out,” he said.

“Non-essential travel shouldn’t be happening to and from this island,” he added.

The Tanaiste said the Irish Government will ensure “key supply chains” which bring goods into Ireland will be maintained.

Those supply chains are important and we need to maintain them and we regard that as essential travel,” he added.

This comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned that the number of new cases of coronavirus will jump by 30% per day.

The Taoiseach said predictions that half the population will get Covid-19 “is accurate”, adding the final number could be “perhaps millions”.

“By the end of the month there will be maybe 15,000 people diagnosed with Covid-19,” he said.

He said the virus cannot be stopped but the Irish Government wants to slow the spread over the next few months.

“The number of people who have Covid-19 will continue to rise everyday for the next few weeks.

“The total number of cases will be very, very high. The objective is not to do the impossible which is to stop that but to spread it out over a period of time,” Mr Varadkar said.

Emergency legislation is to be introduced later this week to prohibit mass gatherings and “to detain and isolate people who have Covid-19 and do not submit to self-isolation”.

The Dail will also be asked to pass new laws to allow for special illness benefits for people who have to take time off work due to the coronavirus.

“It’s inevitable, it cannot be stopped. The numbers will rise every days in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

Mr Varadkar the forecast that half the population could be affected could materialise.

He said by the end of the month 15,000 people could have have tested positive for the virus but most will not be badly affected.

The hope is that it will then start to plateau as as the effects of the current restrictions kick in.

It will rise before it levels off, he added.

Irish Independent