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Latest figures Coronavirus: 349 new cases and 18 further deaths as Taoiseach urges public to stay home on St Patrick's Day


Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Tom Honan/PA)

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Tom Honan/PA)

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn (Tom Honan/PA)

There has been another 349 cases of Covid-19 and 18 new deaths linked to the virus, the Department of Health confirmed this evening.

Seventeen deaths occurred in March, and one in February.

The death toll now stands at 4,552, while there is now a total of 227,663 cases of the virus here.

Of the cases notified today, 156 are in Dublin, 23 in Meath, 19 in Donegal, 15 in Louth, 14 in Kildare and the remaining 122 cases are spread across all other counties.

It comes as Gardai prepare to mount a massive operation to prevent planned lockdown protests in Dublin on Wednesday.

More than 2,500 gardai will be deployed across checkpoints and arterial routes on St Patrick’s Day.

Gardai will be patrolling roads on both the north and south side into Dublin city centre. People will be asked for the reason for their journey to establish whether is it essential.

Several protest events are being planned via social media, by disparate groups in different locations in Dublin city centre.

Demonstrators are expected to gather in Herbert Park, while a second group has been organised to protest outside the headquarters of RTE before marching into the city centre.

Gardai have warned that further protests are also expected to take place across the city.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has appealed for people not to gather to celebrate St Patrick's Day.

In a statement, the Taoiseach said large gatherings could undermine the progress made in suppressing the virus.

He said: "Saint Patrick’s Day is a special occasion for every Irish person around the world. It is a day when we celebrate our nation, our heritage and our people. This year, the day carries an added poignancy as we reflect on a year that has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of more than 6,500 family, friends and neighbours across the island who have died with the virus.

"We normally spend this day with our extended family and friends going to parades or to sporting events. Unfortunately, we cannot do this tomorrow.

"The enormous effort that the entire country has put in to drive down the rate of infection is working. We have successfully reduced the pressure on our health service, and we are moving in the right direction, but we are at a crossroads.

"The variant that is now dominant in the country is much more contagious and therefore much more dangerous. We must keep it under control and I am hopeful that everyone will make a special effort to mark the day in a Covid safe manner. "

The Taoiseach said it is vital that current Covid-19 restrictions are adhered to, adding that "it is very important that people do not congregate or meet up for social gatherings in their homes or anywhere else. To do so would be to undermine all of the sacrifices we have made to date."

He added that there is "no better way" to honour the Irish public than to "stay focused and avoid another wave of infection with this terrible virus. "

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris also urged people not to jeopardise the progress that has been made by celebrating St Patrick’s Day by gathering together, as it could lead to delays in reopening the country.

Mr Harris said: “What I would suggest tomorrow – the most patriotic thing people can actually do in terms of our national battle against Covid-19 is stick to the public health advice.

“Because in about two weeks’ time the Government wants to be able to sit down with our public health experts and work out what the next few weeks look like and we desperately want to be able to see some of the harshest restrictions eased.

“Particularly, and I don’t want to exceed expectations here, but particularly things like the five kilometres, which is really punitive and really difficult for people.

“We want to see construction start to come back and people be able to do that little bit more outdoors.

“My message, the Government’s message, the chief medical officer’s message, is: Let’s not do anything tomorrow that risks that.”

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