Coronavirus: Leo Varadkar 'now is the time for further action'

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Further restrictions have been announced to public life in the Republic of Ireland.

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said "now is the time for further action".

He said from midnight on Friday, for a two week period until Easter Sunday, everyone must stay at home unless their work was essential or they were buying food.

Twenty two people with coronavirus have died in the country.

There are currently 2,121 cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.

People have been told they should only travel further that two kilometres from their home when it is absolutely necessary.

Mr Varadkar said he hoped people would comply with the limit, but gardaí would be available to police it.

"Freedom was hard won in our country and it jars with us to limit liberty, even temporarily," he said.

Mr Varadkar said he was "appealing to every man woman and child to make these sacrifices out of love for each other".

The number of intensive care unit admissions due to coronavirus had doubled in the Republic of Ireland since Monday and transmission in the community now accounts for more than half of all cases.

"From midnight tonight, everyone must stay at home other than to travel to and from work only when work is an essential service, to shop for food or collect a meal, to collect health or medical products, to take brief exercise as long as you adhere to physical distancing," he said.

"All public gatherings are prohibited, sadly this includes social family visits,

"We're not prisoners of fate - we can influence what's going to happen to us next. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."

Simon Harris told RTÉ's Late Late Show that a list of essential workers would be provided soon.

He added: "We can all feel powerless but individuals have huge power - more than the HSE and the government. If you do as we ask and that is to stay at home, then you will save lives."

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image captionDr Holohan said they wanted to curb the number of infections

Ireland's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, said measures implemented so far had been working, but more was needed.

He said the daily increase in cases has slowed down, "relative to what we might have expected a number of weeks ago".

"But this does not tell us that the worse is over - it tells us that we are having some early impact," he said.

Dr Holohan said they wanted to "turn the infection from a community-based one, to a household-based one, and thus slow down its spread and save lives."

Limited travel

The Taoiseach said that all visits to hospitals and prisons will cease with some exceptions on compassionate grounds.

He said that people over the age of 70 and some vulnerable people must shield or 'cocoon' during the two-week period.

He also said that travel to offshore islands will be limited to residents.