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11.56 17 Mar 2020


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The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said the battle to fight the spread of coronavirus will continue for not just weeks but months.

There are 223 cases of COVID-19 in Ireland with 54 new cases confirmed last night.

The Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan predicts an increase of up to 355 daily cases by Sunday.

It comes as the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last night that he expects there will be a daily 30% rise in positive tests for the coronavirus here for the next few weeks.

Mr Varadkar said around half the population could be infected with the virus and that the HSE wants to avoid a spike that could overwhelm the health service.

Meanwhile, it is believed that 140,000 people could be laid-off as a result of measures implemented in response to COVID-19.

It was announced on Sunday that all pubs and bars have been requested by the government to close until at least March 29th.

Thousands have already lost their jobs as pubs, leisure facilities and other businesses closed their doors.

'Many months ahead of us'

Mr Donohoe says Ireland will bounce back from the current crisis.

He said: "The next seven days are going to be crucial.

"We are in a campaign that has many days, many weeks and many months ahead of us.

"The battle that we have underway is one we will need to wage every day for quite some time.

"Following public health guidelines, and through all the supports we are doing, we will be able to recover from this."

Mr Donohoe is expected to clarify the situation on mortgages later this week after the Taoiseach said thousands of people who may not be able to make payments should be given a break during the crisis.

Some lenders say they will look into the option of payment deferrals on a case by case basis.

Bank of Ireland said today that it would be enabling payment breaks and flexible arrangements for mortgages and personal loans.

It comes after the bank announced it would be waiving contactless fees on card transactions for the duration of the public health crisis.

Main image: Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe on his way into Government Buildings for a cabinet meeting yesterday. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

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