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"We must dig deep within ourselves" - Strict new coronavirus guidelines announced

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The Taoiseach has confirmed that schools will remain closed at least until the end of the month.

Leaving Cert students will be asked to attend three days a week, with exceptions also in place for children with special needs.

Pre-schools are also set to close with crèches only open for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.

Meanwhile, non-essential construction sites will close at the end of the week, with exceptions for ‘essential’ projects including those related to housing and health.

Announcing the new measures this afternoon, Micheál Martin said the decisions we all make in the coming month will "directly affect" how many people get sick and how many die.

“As I stand here, hospitals across the country, across these islands and across Europe are under siege from the disease with already exhausted healthcare workers now facing a tsunami of infection even greater than the first wave,” he said.

He noted that we now have more COVID-19 patients in hospital than ever before and said a new study has found that the new strain of the virus increases the reproductive number of the virus by between 0.4 and 0.7.

“That is why we must dig deep within ourselves and face the coming month with steely determination and resolve,” he said.

“We simply must suppress this surge and flatten curve once again.

“The personal decisions that each and every one of us makes over the coming month will directly affect how many more people get sick and how many more people die."

“It is as stark and as simple as that.”

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