BREAKING: Varadkar says 15,000 to contract coronavirus

By Oisín McGovern

15,000 people are expected to contract coronavirus over the coming months, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Speaking in a rare televised address to the nation, the Taoiseach said that the coronavirus emergency was likely to stretch “well beyond March 29 and possibly into the summer”.

“This is the calm before the storm”, the Taoiseach said.

He did not call for Ireland to implement a full lockdown as seen in other countries. However, he said that restrictions currently in place are likely to go on longer than March 29.

The Taoiseach called for everybody to play their part in preventing the spread of the Covid-19, stating: “We’re asking people to come together as a nation by staying apart from each other”.

Varadakar said that healthcare workers would need their full support, saying that “never will so many ask so much of so few”.

The damage to the economy would be “significant and lasting” and that the country could take “years” to recover.

He called on people to ignore messages from unreliable sources and to listen to the HSE, World Health Organisation and national media on the matter .

That looking after the elderly would be a priority over the coming weeks. Varadkar said

He spoke about the idea of “cocooning” as a mechanism whereby the elderly would have food an medicine delivered to them in isolation.

The Taoiseach described today as a “St Patrick’s Day like no other” that would be spoken about in years to come.

No parades took place today and all pubs remained closed.

There were 69 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed today, bringing the total number of cases confirmed in the Republic of Ireland to 292.

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