Coronavirus: Public urged to stay at home for Easter

Childcare scheme for health workers being discussed as 16 more patients die

Views from a drone of an empty and coronavirus-restricted Dublin city centre on a Sunday morning. Video: Aerial.ie

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The public has been urged to “stay home for Easter” and avoid unnecessary travel in order to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on Monday night said people with second homes should not travel to them for the bank holiday weekend. He also called on the public not to engage in unnecessary travel or leisure activities.

His calls came as the deaths of another 16 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were reported on Monday.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) also reported 370 new confirmed cases, bringing the total confirmed cases to 5,364.

Dr Holohan said he understood the “ask” this involved for many people, especially as the weather improves, but he appealed to the public to “have patience with us”.

The current restrictions on movement, which are due to end on Easter Sunday, will be considered at NPHET meetings on Tuesday and on Friday. Dr Holohan said he wasn’t anticipating any change to these restrictions “at this moment in time”.

Implications

The team will also consider the public health implications of setting up a childcare scheme to facilitate healthcare workers.

Trade unions have maintained that the lack of childcare could force essential health staff to stay home from work. Nurses have claimed that some are being forced to pay up to €110 per day to have their children minded to allow them to go to work.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the financing and staffing of a childcare scheme for essential personnel was in place and that while the Government was “ready to push the button”, clearance was needed from the public health team.

The Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday for an update on the Covid-19 emergency. It is expected to consider a memorandum of understanding with Northern Ireland on dealing with the Coronavirus crisis.

Separately, contacts between the Government and medical organisations are continuing to end an impasse over moves to temporarily bring several hundred private sector medical specialists exclusively into the public system. The doctors are concerned the plans could affect continuity of care for existing private patients.

Mr Varadkar has also said Europe’s bailout fund should be used to provide long-term and low-interest loans to tackle the economic crisis caused by Covid-19.

Economic response

He called for unity across the European Union ahead of a video conference of Eurogroup finance ministers on Tuesday to discuss an economic response to the Covid-19 emergency.

The Taoiseach said the EU bailout fund known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) should be modernised to provide such long-term loans.

“The ESM, when it was designed 10 or 11 years ago, it was designed for a different type of crisis, a banking crisis which was an asymmetric recession that affected some countries but not others. This is a symmetric recession – it’s affecting everyone. If ever there was a time for Europe to have a co-ordinated common response based on solidarity, it is now in my view.”

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