The Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health has said the next seven days will be "vital" in controlling the spread of COVID-19.
Dr Tony Holohan wrote on Twitter that "now is the time" to flatten the curve, the concept used to describe the spread of the new coronavirus.
He wrote that "every one of us must play our part" in attempting to delay and reduce a peak in the number of cases and subsequent burden on hospitals.
Dr Holohan issued a list of eight guidelines which people can follow in adherence with HSE guidelines regarding social distancing.
- Reduce your social contacts – see only a handful of people in your network
- Distance yourself 2 metres from people in shops and supermarkets
- Stop shaking hands or hugging when you say hello
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Wash your hands regularly and practice cough and sneeze hygiene
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Check on your vulnerable family members and neighbours
- Work from home where possible
He also advised people to stay informed by following releases from the Department of Health, the HSE and the WHO.
The next 7 days are vital. Now is the time to #FlattenTheCurve.
Every one of us must play our part;
1. Reduce your social contacts – see only a handful of people in your network
2. Distance yourself 2 metres from people in shops & supermarkets #COVID19 #SocialDistancing pic.twitter.com/XlhusMYfiP
— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) March 16, 2020
His comments come after the Minister for Health Simon Harris urged people to only contact their doctor for testing if they are experiencing coronavirus symptoms.
The online system for patients to get tested for COVID-19 crashed today, with doctors reporting that their phone lines are jammed with calls.
GPs can now order a test for someone with symptoms online, but the system has come under severe strain due to the volume of requests.
Minister Harris also said that people should not ring the 999 emergency number in an attempt to order a COVID-19 test.
He said: “What you are actually doing is preventing people who may need to make an emergency call actually accessing it as quickly as they can.”
It’s a new week, let’s make a renewed effort - all of us -to comply with public health advice. The countries which have succeeded the most in “flattening the curve” of #coronavirus are the ones which have seen people follow the advice in full. Follow the advice & save lives pic.twitter.com/XULx5upzYs
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 16, 2020
Meanwhile, the HSE is advising anyone with coronavirus to continue taking any medication they were already taking, unless advised otherwise by a healthcare professional.
This includes anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, naproxen or diclofenac.
The advise comes in response to false information about anti-inflammatory medicine and COVID-19 which has been shared on social media over the last 24 hours.
The HSE says there is no evidence to stop taking any medication at this time, and says there is no need for people to order more medicines than they need.