Keep informed of these unprecedented times with the latest coronavirus updates on Independent.ie’s live blog.
Social distancing needed for ‘prolonged period of time’ to beat Covid-19
Philip Nolan of Maynooth university who is heading a team modelling the potential spread of the virus here said despite huge improvement the country will have to have social distancing in place “for a prolonged period of time” in order to keep the virus suppressed.
The number of new cases per day is growing at below 9pc in the last five days but that needs to be at zero.
RNLI and Irish Coast Guard urges people not to use the sea for exercise or recreation
The Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) and RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) are asking the public not to take part in any water-based activity on or in the sea, while the current national emergency restrictions are in place. Both organisations are highlighting the importance of minimising the risk to Search and Rescue (SAR) volunteer crews, Helicopter crew and other front line emergency services, through being unintentionally exposed to COVID-19.
RNLI and Coast Guard are confirming that their Search and Rescue services are fully operational.
Under normal circumstances, many people would be heading to the coast this weekend to enjoy the Easter bank holiday. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, both organisations are urging everyone to follow Government instructions, which are clear: stay home, protect frontline services and save lives.
28 further deaths in Republic of Ireland and 500 new Covid-19 cases
A further 28 patients in Ireland have died after contracting the coronavirus.
It brings the total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 here to 345.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, confirmed another 500 cases of the virus in Ireland.
So far 6,574 people have been confirmed to have Covid-19.
Of the 28 deaths, 13 male were male and 15 female. 19 had underlying medical conditions.
It brings the total on the island of Ireland to 8,051 cases and 345 related deaths.
Astronauts leave virus-plagued Earth for International Space Station
Three astronauts have arrived at the International Space Station after departing the virus-plagued Earth with little fanfare and no family members at the launch site to bid them farewell.
Nasa’s Chris Cassidy and Russians Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner arrived at the orbiting lab in a Soyuz capsule six hours after blasting off from Kazakhstan. They joined two Americans and one Russian who will return to Earth in a week.
The space station’s newest crew members will remain on board until October, keeping the outpost running until SpaceX launches a pair of Nasa astronauts from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre as early as next month. It will be the first orbital launch of astronauts from the US since Nasa’s space shuttle programme ended in 2011.
Thursday’s lift-off was low-key even by Russian standards, given the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Nasa televised the lift-off live as usual, but only a few Russia-based American space agency employees were at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Irish public invited to join celebrities and leaders on Saturday in shining a light in solidarity during Covid-19
The Irish public are invited to join celebrities and leaders and shine a light on Saturday at 9pm to create a moment of solidarity in our battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina are set to shine their light from the Áras. Government buildings will light up with a host of national and local public buildings across the island shining their beacon lights, along with Irish embassies and missions around the world.
People of all ages, are asked to be as creative as they wish – powering their phone torches, flashlights, candles or even Christmas lights, to participate in the initiative from wherever they are.
The RTE Shine a Light campaign has already secured widespread support from the creative and cultural community with Gabriel Byrne, Sinéad O’Connor, Glen Hansard, Saoirse Ronan, Colm Mac Con Iomaire, Paula Meehan and Marie Mullen all joining in the call for this public moment of solidarity.
President Higgins appeals to public to stay at home this Easter to protect the vulnerable
President Michael D Higgins has appealed to the public to stay at home this Easter to protect the most vulnerable in society.
In a statement addressed to the people of Ireland, Mr Higgins said that while it is tough at a time of celebration, it is imperative that the Irish public continue to follow social distancing regulations.
His full statement is as follows:
“Easter, for us Irish, is a time of remembrance, reflection, hope for the future and, for so many, a coming together with those we hold dear.
“This Easter will be unlike any we can remember. This weekend, we must do things differently.
“We must show our love for each other, our solidarity with the most vulnerable among us and our support for the thousands of women and men who have been working so hard to provide us with essential services and to keep us safe by staying at home, keeping our distance and supporting each other in ways that do not put anyone at risk.
“I believe that this is a most fitting tribute to all those who have given so much to Ireland and to the Irish people.
“This weekend we remember, with appreciation, those who laid the foundations of our republic and all those who are giving witness to the generous ideals of a true republic in their words and deeds during these most challenging times.”
Wexford and Wicklow County Councils close car parks and beaches to combat surge of people visiting holiday homes
Following consultations between Wexford County Council and An Garda Síochána, it has been necessary to close the following beach car parks in order to comply with physical distancing and the 2km exercising requirements under Covid-19 Regulations
Wicklow County Council wishes to advise members of the public that facilities will be closed to the public over the Easter weekend and until further notice. The Council urges people to adhere to national restrictions on public movement and to the advice of the HSE in relation to physical distancing and to stay safe.
The County Wicklow Community Call helpline service continues to operate over the Easter weekend, during the hours of 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, Telephone: 1800 868 399 or email [email protected] Trained staff are available to co-ordinate assistance to elderly and vulnerable persons.
An Garda Síochána will be carrying out strict enforcement in relation to parking and non-compliance in this regard. Wexford and Wicklow County Council both said they very much regrets the necessity of these measures but must act in the interest of public health due to gathering crowds and infringements of physical distancing requirements. The situation will be kept under review.
Full lists of facilities, car parks and beaches closed can be found on the Councils’ respective websites.
Four further deaths in Northern Ireland and 138 new Covid-19 cases
A further four patients in Northern Ireland have died after contracting the coronavirus.
It brings the total number of deaths associated with Covid-19 here to 82.
The Public Health Agency has confirmed another 138 cases of the virus, the biggest increase in cases per day since the crisis began in Northern Ireland. That coincides with an increase in testing.
So far 1,477 people have been confirmed to have Covid-19, with 10,203 people tested.
Debenhams heading into liquidation
The Irish arm of Debenhams is set to be placed into liquidation, with staff told on Thursday that their jobs are gone.
The business employs more the 1,500 direct and indirect staff at 11 large department stores across the country.
The Irish business will shut following the UK parent being placed into administration, a form of insolvency protection.
It is by far the most high profile company collapse since the onset of Covid-19 which has wiped out the non-food retail trade.
Health Minister Simon Harris says restrictions will not be lifted tomorrow
Health Minster Simon Harris has said restrictions put in place to curtail the Covid-19 outbreak will not be lifted tomorrow.
Dr Tony Holohan and the National Public Health and Emergency team (NPHET) are due to meet tomorrow to discuss when the restrictions could potentially be lifted, Mr Harris said.
“This kind of decides on the restrictions and how long they want us to continue them for. So let me just to be blunt and honest with people, the restrictions that are in place are not going to be lifted tomorrow.
“We’re going to have to keep at it. What we’re hoping to be able to do tomorrow is show people what the journey looks like. We’re going to keep at this for another couple of weeks, where does it bring us, what does success look like,” Mr Harris told PJ and Jim on Classic Hits this morning.
Wexford beach car parks shut ahead of Easter weekend
Wexford County Council has announced the closure of several beach car parks ahead of the Easter weekend.
The council said the closures are being implemented in order to comply with physical distancing and the 2km exercising requirements outlined by the HSE guidelines.
Full list of beach car parks closed as follows:
- Ballymoney Beach Car Park
- Courtown Leisure Centre Car Park
- Cahore Beach Car Park
- Morriscastle Beach Car Park
- Ballinesker Beach Car Park
- Curracloe (White Gap) Beach Car Park
- Culleton’s Gap Beach Car Park
- St Helen’s Beach Car Park
- Kilmore Quay Car Parks
Ferrybank swimming pool car park and the road to Ferrybank quay car park are also closed.
In a statement issued by Wexford County Council, a spokesperson said: “An Garda Síochána will be carrying out strict enforcement in relation to parking and non-compliances in this regard.
“Wexford County Council very much regrets the necessity of these measures but the Council must act in the interest of public health due to gathering crowds and infringements of physical distancing requirements. The situation will be kept under review.”
Government Briefing: More than 40,000 employers register with subsidiary scheme
40,300 employers have registered with the temporary wage subsidiary scheme.
The cumulative value of payments made under the scheme is 155 million euro.
Subsidy payments for Good Friday and Easter Monday will not be processed until Tuesday, 14 due to the Easter weekend.
The scheme will be managed with income tax assessment as normal revenue for all employees. The preliminary end of year statement will show if a person has paid the correct amount of tax and universal social charge for the year.
Additional tax credits can be claimed by submitting them on the income tax return.
Number of private nusing homes hit with Covid-19 rises to 100
The number of private nursing homes hit by the coronavirus has risen to 100.
Clusters have also been found in 48 hospitals and 37 residential institutions.
Spikes and hot spots in Japan and India as world looks to flatten Covid-19 curve
Coronavirus infections are spiking in Japan and creating hot spots in India’s congested cities just as the US and some of the hardest-hit European countries are considering when to start easing restrictions that have helped curb their outbreaks of the disease.
Japan reported more than 500 new cases for the first time Thursday, a worrisome rise since it has the world’s oldest population and Covid-19 can be especially serious in the elderly.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency, but not a lockdown, in Tokyo and six other prefectures earlier this week.
Companies in the world’s third-largest economy have been slow to embrace working from home, and many commuters were on Tokyo’s streets as usual.
Johnnie Walker and Diageo report 50 pc fall in sales
Johnnie Walker and Guinness owner Diageo has warned that the speed of the shutdown of large parts of its markets across the world is hitting the business even harder.
Bosses highlighted several areas, including a 50 pc fall in sales across Europe due to pub, bar and restaurant closures, and have scrapped future targets and predictions.
U2 donates 10 million euro to coronavirus fight in Ireland
Rock band U2 has donated 10 million euro to support health care workers battling coronavirus in Ireland.
The money will be used to source and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff.
A spokeswoman for the band confirmed the move to the PA news agency.
RTE has reported the donation is part of an initiative involving Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon, which is working with public and private companies to raise funds to buy tonnes of PPE equipment from China.
The first consignment arrived at Dublin Airport earlier in the week.
Covid-19 leaves low level of antibodies in patients – research
Recovered coronavirus patients can have very low levels of antibodies in their system, researchers have found, in a discovery that could hamper the development of immunity tests.
A team from Fudan University in China analysed blood from 175 patients discharged from the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre and found nearly a third had surprisingly few antibodies.
In 10 patients, antibodies could not be detected at all, which could also place them at greater risk of a secondary infection.
“Whether these patients were at high risk of rebound or reinfection should be explored in further studies,” the authors wrote in an article on the website Medrxiv.org, an online platform for early research which has not yet been peer-reviewed.
All of the patients had recently recovered from mild symptoms of the disease and most of those who had low antibody levels were young.
Levels rose with age, with people aged 60-85 displaying more than three times the number of antibodies as people in the 15-39 age group.