October 20, 2020
News

COVID-19 LATEST: 43 more die, 359 new cases, Taoiseach outlines stages to ease restrictions

Forty-three more people have died from Covid-19 as 359 new cases of the coronavirus were confirmed this evening.

It brings the overall death toll as a result of the virus to 1,232. There are now 20,612 cases of Covid-19 across the country.

The latest casualties were confirmed by the Department of Health as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar signalled there will not be a major relaxation of the current Covid-19 lockdown over the coming weeks.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said any easing of the restrictions will be done gradually.

The Taoiseach said he understands the lockdown is difficult and that people are feeling frustrated, cooped up and trapped, but he added: “We must keep doing what we’re doing.”

Mr Varadkar said that people want to know when things will go back to the new normal, but unfortunately for those who would like an immediate return to a pre-Covid world, he said the easing of the restrictions will be slow and gradual and done in a step-by-step manner.

He said public health and safety and healthcare capacity will continue to be the basis for decision-making.

Changes will be made every two to four weeks, but the Government will intervene if things are “going off track” and some elements would be reintroduced.

Mr Varadkar said he hopes to put the plan before Cabinet tomorrow to be approved.

The Taoiseach said there are five key priorities to be considered in lifting the restrictions. These are:

  • Progress of the disease;
  • Healthcare capacity and resilience;
  • Testing and contact tracing capacity;
  • Ability to shield and care for at-risk groups;
  • Risk of secondary morbidity due to the restrictions themselves.

Mr Varadkar said many lives have been saved, but that people cannot falter now.

The Taoiseach said the country is not out of danger yet, but he said the Government would give hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Shane Doran

Shane Doran is founder and Co-Managing Editor of News Now Media, incorporating KilkennyNow.ie, WaterfordNow.ie and WicklowNow.ie. He is a former newspaper editor who has held senior executive roles across five national newspaper titles, both broadsheet and tabloid. He was News Editor and Executive Editor of the Irish Independent for more than seven years and spent a number of years in South Africa where he worked as editor of The Daily Voice newspaper. Shane has held senior editorial position with The Sunday Independent, The Herald and The Irish Daily Star and has served as Executive Editor (Group) of Independent News & Media (INM), Ireland’s largest newspaper group.

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