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Nine new cases of Covid-19 and first death of patient in Republic of Ireland

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe urged employers to do all they can if someone is not able to come to work over fears of contracting Covid-19.

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Minister for Business Heather Humphreys and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (Brian Lawless/PA)

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre in Ireland has confirmed nine new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic.

They include:

– Four males from the south of the country associated with travel;

– One female from the south of the country who came into contact with a confirmed case;

– One male from the south who came in contact with a confirmed case;

– Two males from the east of the country associated with travel;

– One male from the east of the country who came into contact with a confirmed case.

There are now 43 confirmed cases in the Republic of Ireland.

Ireland’s chief medical officer has urged healthy members of the public to not wear gloves and masks amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

Speaking at a press briefing in Dublin on Wednesday, Dr Tony Holohan said: “We do not recommend masks and gloves and other protective material for the general public.

“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 Holohan has said it is “gratifying” that people are helping others who have to self- isolate.

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

He said: “These practical measures of social solidarity that support people is self isolation situations can be very helpful. It is something we are very good at in this country.

“As we step through this and as maybe there are more cases, we may get to to a point where individuals with minor illness will be staying at home and there will be more people in restricted movement situations for an extended period of time.

“All sorts of practical issues will arise where they need to have their dog walked or to get groceries. These measures where societies are beginning to organise themselves -it is gratifying to hear that is happening.

“If people are making those kinds of arrangements, that is a good thing.”

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.

Dr De Gascun confirmed six of the nine cases that were associated with travel, came from Italy.

Meanwhile, the first death of patient with Covid-19 in the Republic was earlier confirmed.

Dr Holohan said: “I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of this patient.

“I urge the media and the public to respect their privacy at this difficult time.

“We continue our efforts to interrupt the transmission of this virus. It will take all of us, collectively to succeed. Please continue to follow public health advice.”

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.”

Mr Reid did not elaborate further on the tweet. The Republic is currently in the containment phase with 34 cases of Covid-19, bringing the overall total on the island of Ireland to 52.

The Government has called for employers to “play their part” of the national response to tackling coronavirus 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 over fears of contracting Covid-19.

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

It comes as 34 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the Republic of Ireland.

Speaking from Government Buildings in Dublin, Mr Donohoe said: “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.

“We recognise that for some employers, this may well be a challenge.

“We understand the financial dimensions that are involved in this.”

On Monday, the Government unveiled a financial aid package worth up to 2.4 billion euro.

Under the plans private sector workers affected by coronavirus will receive 305 euro per week from their first day of illness.

Mr Donohoe said these plans have been put in place for public health reasons.

“We recognise that for many workers within our country, taking this decision is one that does have financial consequences and we want to ensure that the measures are in place to minimise financial concerns as employees, and as employers make decisions in relation to their own health,” Mr Donohoe added.

“This is the reason why on Monday, Minister (Heather) Humphreys and I, in conjunction with the Government, made the decision in relation to the availability of illness payments, the qualifying period that is necessary before you can access that payment and we also increased the value of that payment by over 100 euro.”

Minister for Business Heather Humphreys outlined a number of measures which Irish businesses can avail of 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 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 cash flow and liquidity will be one of the first issues that will face businesses.”

Finance Minister Paschal Donoho
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe (Brian Lawless/PA)

There is a 200 million euro enterprise fund available while enterprise offices are offering vouchers of between 2,500 euro and 10,000 euro.

“The situation is changing from day to day and we will continue to work with stakeholders to respond to ongoing developments,” Ms Humphreys added.

“I’m asking businesses to show some flexibility and solidarity with the workers in terms of sick pay.”

Ms Humphreys also urged the public not to panic buy adding that retailers have ensured her there is a sufficient supply chain.

“I would say to people, do not panic buy as that in itself causes shortages,” she added.

Mr Donohoe said the escalating challenges around coronavirus will influence the political discussions around forming a government.

“This will be a very demanding political exercise but we are truly in extraordinary times,” Mr Donohoe added.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is now advising against non-essential travel to four areas in Spain – Madrid, Vitoria and Labastida in the Basque Country and La Rioja – due to an increase in the number of Spanish coronavirus cases.

Deputy Irish Premier Simon Coveney tweeted: “A significant number of new #COVID19 cases confirmed in Spain, on mainland & Balearic & Canary Islands. If u are in Spain, monitor developments closely & follow advice from Local Authorities.”

PA