Donegal people asked to play a role in the battle against Covid-19 (coronavirus)

Update on plans to deal with current public health emergencies

Donegal people asked to play a role in the battle against Covid-19 (coronavirus)

Donegal people have been asked to fall into line with the rest of the country's plans to deal with the current public health emergencies.

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said that priority testing, for example for healthcare workers, may be implemented. At the moment waiting time for a test is between four to five days and around 40,000 people are waiting for a test.

Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, ,said it was unlikely that public parks and beaches would be closed. There were complaints over the weekend, including many here throughout Donegal, that some areas were crowded.

Minister for health, Simon Harris and Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar

Mr Varadkar said that the government had asked the chief medical officer for more advice.

“Most people most of the time are adhering to social distancing. We see some evidence in the contact-tracing that that is the case,” he said.

Bank of Ireland said that it would temporarily close 101 of its 262 branches in response to the outbreak.  

The closures will allow staff from closed branches to support the bank's larger branches.

They will also be able to help contact centres manage the increased numbers of customers needing support, especially for mortgage and SME loan payment breaks.

All BOI branches will continue to provide an external ATM cash withdrawal service.

The following branches will be closed from today: Bunbeg, Bundoran, Falcarragh, Glenties and Moville.

Almost three weeks have passed since Ireland started the delay phase, introducing additional measures to slow down the spread of the virus, by minimising contact between potentially infected people and healthy people. This is called social distancing.

The spread of coronavirus can be reduced by limiting contact between people. You can reduce your contact by avoiding shaking hands or other close contact and by keeping a distance of two metres (6 feet) from other people. This is known as social distancing.

People have also been asked to reduce social interactions as much as possible and avoid crowded places. If you are in a crowded place, be sure to practice protective personal hygiene measures.

The Government has taken measures to reduce contact between people including:

- Closing museums, galleries and tourism sites

- Preventing indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor   gatherings of more than 500 people

- Closing educational institutions including creches, kindergartens,   primary schools, secondary schools and higher educational institutions

- Reducing workplace contacts and using remote working where possible

- Restricting visits to hospitals, long-term care settings, mental     health facilities and prisons

- Closing pubs and advising against parties in private houses or other  places

- Self-separation

If you are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, you can protect yourself by self-separation. This means avoiding other people because they could potentially be infected.

You are at higher risk if you:

- Are aged 60 or over, particularly if you are over 75

- Have a long-term medical condition such as a heart disease or lung   disease

- Have a weak immune system due to disease or treatment, for example,   if you are a cancer patient

- Restricted movements or self-quarantine

- If you are a close contact of someone who is confirmed to have  coronavirus but you do not have symptoms, you need to restrict your   movements to make sure you do not pass the virus to others. This means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as   much as possible. This is also known as self-quarantine.

You may be a close contact if, for example, you share accommodation with an infected person or you have had more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact within two metres of an infected person.

If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus, a public health doctor will tell you this. You also need to restrict your movements if you’re returning to Ireland from certain countries affected by coronavirus.

How to restrict your movements


- If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you need to stay indoors and completely avoid contact with other people to avoid passing on the virus.

- Contact your GP by phone.

You will need to self-isolate:

- If you have symptoms of coronavirus

- Before you get tested for coronavirus

- While you wait for test results

- If you have had a positive test result for coronavirus

Emergency legislation

Last Friday, (March 20), the President signed the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020 into law. 

The Act gives the Minister for Health the power to make regulations to introduce measures to slow down the spread of the virus.

Under this Act the Minister will be able to make regulations to:

- Restrict travel to and from Ireland

- Restrict travel within Ireland to stop people moving to and from   affected areas

- Stop gatherings of people from taking place, and to make organisers   of these gatherings put safeguards in place to prevent the virus from spreading

- Make businesses (such as shops) put safeguards in place to protect   their staff and customers

- Close premises, including schools

Detentions and penalties

Failure to comply with a regulation will be an offence, and the gardaí have been given special powers, including the power to arrest without warrant, to enforce any regulation made under the Act.

The Act also allows for detention where it is believed by a qualified medical person that a person is:

- A potential source of infection 

- A risk to public health

- Detention is necessary to slow the spread of Covid-19

- A person will only be detained if they refuse to remain in a  specified place like their home or a hospital, or cannot be isolated   in any other way.

A person detained will be tested as soon as possible and will be able to ask for a review of their detention by an independent person on the grounds they are not a source of infection.

Failure to comply with a detention, or interfering with the detention of a person will be a criminal offence.

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