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Ireland’s Covid-19 reproduction rate estimated to be 0.7, minister says

Simon Harris also urged the public to wear a face mask when in retail shops and using public transport.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris said people should be ready to use face coverings (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris said people should be ready to use face coverings (Photocall Ireland/PA)

Minister for Health Simon Harris said people should be ready to use face coverings (Photocall Ireland/PA)

The reproduction rate of Covid-19 in Ireland is estimated to be at 0.7, the minister for health has said.

Simon Harris told the Dail the rate at which an infected person transmits the virus is more difficult to estimate the smaller the number of cases of the virus there are.

“However, this tells us we still need to remain vigilant and careful not to catch or transmit the virus as we go about our daily business,” he said.

“While we continue to make progress, we should not forget this virus is still among us and its future is dependent on our actions.”

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

Mr Harris also urged the public to wear a face mask when in retail shops and when using public transport.

He said that wearing face coverings is a behavioural change “we will have to get used to”.

On Monday the Government launched an awareness campaign around the wearing of face coverings.

They will not be made mandatory but people are encouraged to wear them on public transport, in places where social distancing is not possible and when visiting older people.

Mr Harris took out his own face covering from his pocket and said we all need to carry them around with us.

“This week I have an additional ask for the public in relation to the wearing of face coverings. I have said clearly there are lots of views on wearing them and perhaps the noise has interfered with the clear communication of the advice.

“Let’s be honest, this can feel difficult, odd and peculiar. It is a strange thing. We are not used to in this country wearing face coverings in the way other countries are.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar takes part in a photocall to promote the wearing of facemasks on public transport in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar takes part in a photocall to promote the wearing of facemasks on public transport in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar takes part in a photocall to promote the wearing of facemasks on public transport in Dublin city centre (Niall Carson/PA)

“We need to get used to it and have our face coverings in our pocket like our keys and our wallets and make it a habit.

“It is necessary but it won’t protect you like a magic shield from coronavirus.”

On Wednesday, Ireland’s coronavirus death toll rose to 1,710 after a further three deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

There have been eight new confirmed cases of the virus, taking the total to 25,341 since the Covid-19 outbreak began.

Meanwhile, the head of the vintners organisation has said that halving social distancing measures for pubs and restaurants from two metres to one would still be restrictive.

Restaurants and cafes can reopen – as well as pubs and bars which operate as restaurants – from June 29.

Tourism group Failte Ireland said it has been told by health officials there could be “certain circumstances” where restaurants are allowed to adhere to a one-metre social distancing rule.

Failte Ireland said the meals sold in such premises must be “of a kind for which it would be reasonable to charge not less than 9 euro”.

Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has previously said pubs operating as restaurants would not mean people meeting up “for a few pints and having a packet of peanuts”.

The guidelines due to be issued this week state food on offer would “be expected to be served as a main midday or evening meal or as a main course in either such meal”.

But Vintners’ Federation of Ireland chief executive Padraig Cribben said the one-metre rule for pubs could still be restrictive.

He told RTE Morning Ireland: “We welcome the move from two metres to one but it does say that would only be in certain circumstances.

“We have been working with the various government departments in relation to social distancing and we need to flesh out what these circumstances are.

“Going from two metres to one is very important from a capacity point of view but it is still very restrictive.

“We have some independent research done that says even at the one metre, seating capacity would be reduced by 35%. From a viability point of view it is going to be very challenging.”

PA