‘Stay home’: Varadkar announces sweeping two-week lockdown | World news

The Irish government has announced sweeping restrictions that will put Ireland in a de facto lockdown to try to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said on Friday evening that from midnight people should stay at home for two weeks, until 12 April, in a significant tightening of curbs on social and commercial life.

People will be allowed to leave home to shop for food and exercise briefly within 2km of their homes, he said in a televised address from Government Buildings in Dublin.

Symptoms are defined by the NHS as either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

After 7 days, if you no longer have a high temperature you can return to your normal routine.

If you still have a high temperature, stay at home until your temperature returns to normal.

If you still have a cough after 7 days, but your temperature is normal, you do not need to continue staying at home. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

Staying at home means you should:

  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home

You can use your garden, if you have one. You can also leave the house to exercise – but stay at least 2 metres away from other people.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, use the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Source: NHS England on 23 March 2020

All public or private gatherings are banned, as are visits to hospitals and prisons, with some exceptions on compassionate grounds. People aged over 70 and vulnerable groups must “cocoon”, and travel to offshore islands will be limited to residents.

There are concessions for farming, travel to and from essential work that cannot be done from home, caring for elderly or vulnerable people, and collecting medicine and attending medical appointments.

“I’m appealing to every man, woman and child to make these sacrifices for the love of each other … show that you care for your family and friends: stay home,” said Varadkar.

He declined to use the term lockdown but said the measures were drastic. “There isn’t much more we could do beyond this to restrict movement. These are radical actions aimed at saving as many people’s lives as possible in the days and weeks ahead.”

Leo Varadkar

Tonight, the Government has received further recommendations on the actions that we need to take to protect our people. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/2bmDzEt22q

March 27, 2020

The measures broadly align Ireland with the UK and tighten a gradual shutdown that began with closures of schools and universities on 13 March and widened to include most businesses and a ban on sporting events.

“Our country is rising to this challenge, and I’m convinced we will prevail,” said Varadkar.

Earlier on Friday health authorities announced the pandemic had claimed three more lives – including that of a health worker – bringing Ireland’s death toll to 22. Another 302 cases were confirmed, bringing the total number of infections to 2,121.

The World Health Organization is recommending that people take simple precautions to reduce exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, for which there is no specific cure or vaccine.

The UN agency advises people to:

  • Frequently wash their hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or warm water and soap
  • Cover their mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough
  • Seek early medical help if they have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, and share their travel history with healthcare providers

Many countries are now enforcing or recommending curfews or lockdowns. Check with your local authorities for up-to-date information about the situation in your area. 

In the UK, NHS advice is that anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.

That total is lower than authorities had predicted for this phase but there is deep concern that intensive care units are already nearing capacity and could be overwhelmed.

Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, said day-on-day increases have slowed, suggesting restrictions are working, but added that this did not mean the worst was over. “It tells us we are having early impact. We think now is the time for us to move, to try and spend two weeks to really suppress this virus as much as is possible in the community.”

The president, Michael D Higgins, signed into law an emergency measures bill that gives the government extensive powers to combat the pandemic and cushion the economy.

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