More than 30,000 people have responded to a massive recruitment drive across the Irish health service to tackle Covid-19.
The “Be on call for Ireland” campaign launched on Tuesday to seek help from healthcare professionals who are not already working in the public health service.
The recruitment call came with the message: “Your country needs you.”
It came after the Government warned on Monday that it expects a 30% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases confirmed in the Republic of Ireland every day.
HSE HR director Anne Marie Hoey told RTE radio the recruitment drive has already received more than 30,000 responses.
We are all being asked to answer a different Irelandâs Call than usual and all over Ireland people are responding. Listen to this appeal from @RugbyPlayersIRE and help keep us all safe #coronavirus #COVID19 https://t.co/Hx8J2MAR9F— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 19, 2020
She said: “The call was only put out at lunchtime on St Patrick’s Day so it has been a phenomenal response.
Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has said there has been close co-operation across the island since the Covid-19 crisis began.
Mrs Foster said the decision to close schools in the region was based on medical advice, not the direction of the British Government.
Schools are to close across Northern Ireland from Monday in a bid to delay the spread of Covid-19.
Schools have been closed since Friday in the Republic.
Speaking to RTE Morning Ireland on Thursday, Mrs Foster was asked if she had to wait for the go-ahead to close schools from Westminster.
She said: “We have been taking our medical evidence and our science from our own Chief Medical Officer here in Northern Ireland.
“He felt yesterday was the time to decide to close schools.”
She said she was also following the advice of the Cobra emergency briefings in the UK.
Mrs Foster said work has been ongoing between the Chief Medical Officer in Northern Ireland and the Chief Medical Officer in the Republic.
Elsewhere, the Dail is returning on Thursday to pass emergency legislation to help workers affected by Covid-19.
The new legislation includes changes to remove the waiting period for payment of Jobseekers Benefit and Jobseekers Allowance for recipients who have been diagnosed or are in isolation.