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Nine new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Ireland as first patient dies

There are now 43 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland, along with 18 across the border in Northern Ireland.

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A Covid-19 swab is taken out from a sterile tube (Ben Birchall/PA)

A Covid-19 swab is taken out from a sterile tube (Ben Birchall/PA)

A Covid-19 swab is taken out from a sterile tube (Ben Birchall/PA)

Nine new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Ireland on the day the first patient died.

The latest cases include people who have travelled as well as some who have been in contact with confirmed cases.

It brings the total number of Covid-19 cases in the Republic to 43, as well as 18 cases across the border in Northern Ireland.

Earlier it was confirmed that a female patient with an underlying illness in the east of the country has died. It is understood she was an older woman and was being treated in hospital.

Ireland’s premier Leo Varadkar delayed the Taoiseach’s annual pre St Patrick’s Day visit to the United States due to what he called the “evolving coronavirus situation”.

He addressed a business leaders lunch in Washington DC via a pre- recorded video message earlier, saying he planned to travel to attend a dinner in the city on Wednesday night.

Speaking at the event, Tourism Ireland chief Niall Gibbons said coronavirus has already resulted in some job losses, but said his organisation will continue to spread the Ireland message around the world.

“We already have seen some enterprises let people go, it’s an industry that depends on (a) demand pipeline and the demand pipeline particularly in the corporate sector has dried up, bookings have dried up in the leisure sector as well, so that just makes things difficult for certain operators on the ground.

Brandon Lewis visit to the US
Leo Varadkar delivers a pre-recorded message to the Team Ireland business leaders lunch in Washington DC (Niall Carson/PA)

“But the Government has announced a package of measures which I think is going to be important for the industry as it heads into the next number of months,” he said.

The Irish Government has also advised against “non essential” travel to parts of Spain.

Deputy Irish Premier Simon Coveney tweeted: “This evening we are upgrading our overall security status in respect of Spain to “exercise a high degree of caution” & advising against non-essential travel to the following areas: Madrid, Vitoria & Labastida in the Basque Country and La Rioja.”

Earlier Ireland’s chief medical officer urged healthy members of the public to not wear gloves and masks.

“We would encourage people to be responsible in their purchasing decisions because if we are in a situation where there is limited supply, people who are diagnosed will require these materials,” Dr Tony Holohan said.

A social solidarity movement has also begun on Twitter, where members of the public can volunteer to help people in their community with errands while they have to self-isolate.

Chairman of the Covid-19 Expert Advisory Group, Cillian De Gascun, said 2,300 people in the Republic of Ireland have been tested for the virus.

And the head of the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) says the Republic is entering “a new phase” of coronavirus.

In a tweet, Paul Reid said: “We are entering a new phase in #Covid19. I fully support our hospitals who have to make decisions on restricting visitors based on clinical risk, patient and public safety.

“Please do as we urge and our ask will increase as we progress.”

The Government has called for employers to “play their part” in the national response by continuing to pay staff who have to self-isolate.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe urged employers to do all they can if someone is not able to come to work.

Mr Donohoe said he recognises the financial burden firms may face as employees who have symptoms need to self-isolate.

“We are joining with employers and unions today calling on all employers who do have employees who make the decision that they need to go into a period of isolation, to continue to pay them as normal in recognition of the great challenge that we are now facing,” he said.

On Monday, the Government announced a financial aid package worth up to 2.4 billion euro (£2.1 billion). Private sector workers affected by coronavirus will receive 305 euro (£268) per week from their first day of illness.

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys outlined a number of measures which Irish businesses can take to help stem the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

She said: “We have introduced a number of supports this week including a 200 million euro (£176 million) working capital scheme.

“That means any business that is impacted by the coronavirus can make an application for assistance.

“It will help them with the liquidity problems because cashflow and liquidity will be one of the first issues that will face businesses.”

There is a 200 million euro (£176 million) enterprise fund available while enterprise offices are offering vouchers of between 2,500 euro (£2,200) and 10,000 euro (£8,790).

PA