Health chief Paul Reid has said there is no rationale to stockpiling groceries as the Republic of Ireland is not under lockdown.
Schools, colleges, childcare facilities and cultural institutions are now closed for the next fortnight in the Republic in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Reid, the Health Service Executive (HSE) boss, appealed for calm and said supply chains are fully operational and people should not stockpile over fears of a lockdown.
He said: “We are not in lockdown. I want to be very clear; from a government perspective and a HSE perspective we are not on lockdown and we have no intention of getting to lockdown.
It is not needed, it is dysfunctional and it is not where we arePaul Reid, Health Service Executive
“The phase that we are in right now and the actions we are taking are the correct and appropriate actions.
“We would encourage social solidarity among communities and it is something Ireland is good at and we encourage people to support vulnerable people.
“There is absolutely no rationale to stockpiling whatsoever. It is not needed, it is dysfunctional and it is not where we are.”
The HSE gave a media briefing in Dublin on Friday as there are now 70 cases of Covid 19 and one death in the Republic.
HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said the number of patients waiting on trolleys has dropped dramatically since the outbreak began.
She said: “In terms of our trolley count – that has dropped away considerably. In Galway for instance, we had just one patient waiting on a trolley.
“The trolley count is lower than we have ever seen in quite some time. Our hospital attendances and admissions are way down this week.
The Health Service in the Republic of Ireland is deploying army cadets to carry out contact tracing for Covid-19 cases to free up doctors and healthcare staff. #Covid19Ireland @PA pic.twitter.com/Ji72vpTNRt— Ãine McMahon (@AineMcMahon) March 13, 2020
“There are just 57 patients waiting on trolleys today – that is a very, very different number compared to what we are used to during the winter period.”
Dr Colm Henry said the HSE is deploying army cadets to carry out contact tracing for Covid-19 cases to free up doctors and healthcare staff.
He said: “Army cadets are to begin carrying out contact tracing to free up doctors as we need our experts freed up to do the work that we need them to do.”
Business Minister Heather Humphreys reiterated her call for the public to stop stockpiling, saying it could be disruptive and impact on the most vulnerable in society.
Speaking at a Government press briefing on Covid-19 on Friday, Ms Humphreys said enough food is produced in Ireland for 40 million people.
Stockpiling will cause problems so please don’t do itBusiness Minister Heather Humphreys
Ms Humphreys said she held a meeting with major retailers on handling the Covid-19 outbreak on Friday morning.
“They remain confident that we have sufficient supply to meet demand. I want to be very clear: people do not need to stockpile. Supermarkets and shops will remain open. Stockpiling will cause problems so please don’t do it.
“So I want to absolutely stress there is no need to stockpile.
“We may be in an abnormal situation but we absolutely have enough supplies, so please behave normally and shop as you normally would do.”