Michael Staines
Michael Staines

14.55 20 Mar 2020


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The Head of the HSE is calling on families to obey social distancing rules on Mother’s Day this Sunday.

At a COVID-19 briefing this afternoon, the health service’ Chief Executive Paul Reid warned that we are fighting a war against a “silent and dangerous enemy.”

He admitted that the measures introduced to slow the spread of the virus are tough on families, but warned that we can’t afford to put loved ones at risk – even on special occasions.

“We can’t lax the guidance and the rules that we have put in place, even for a day,” he said.

“It would be misleading of me to give any other impression, that we could just relax the rules for a day, whether it is for Mother’s Day or anything else.

“What we have put in place needs compliance, every minute, every hour, every day.”

COVID-19

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland has today risen to 643 after nine new cases were confirmed in the North.

The Health Minister Simon Harris has called on people to take social distancing rules “much more seriously.”

Elderly

Mr Reid said that that, although the measures are tough, there are still ways people can stay close to their loved ones.

“We were blessed to have our first grandchild, Aisling, born in Austen Texas late last year,” he said.

“It is very difficult not being able to say when you are going to be able to hug them again.

“But I had a great moment yesterday with a five-minute facetime call in the office and it really does give you great motivation.

“I am using that example to say we are going to be very innovative in our communities, particularly to elderly people, in the coming weeks and months.”

COVID-19 Coronavirus Pictured at a Ministerial Press Conference on COVID-19 is Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development Sean Canney, 20-03-2020. Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews

National effort

At the same briefing the Minister of State for Community Affairs Sean Canney said families have to keep the effort up this Mother’s Day.

“I think of my own mother, she is 94. I can’t see here, I can’t visit her but she is very happy that she is doing something for Ireland again,” he said.

“I think every mother in the country has an understanding that that is what we are at here.

“We are actually not doing something to penalise people; We are doing something that actually is good for the country.

“It is essential, it is necessary and we just have to work at it every second, every minute of every day.”

Social distancing

The HSE has published a list of things people should do to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.

The social distancing guidelines include:

  • Keep a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people
  • Reducing interactions with people outside the workplace and home
  • Reducing the number of people you meet every day
  • Avoiding communal sleeping areas
  • Avoiding crowded places
  • Working from home if possible

People are warned not to shake hands or make close contact where possible.


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