TEMPORARY mortuary facilities are to be set up to deal with the surge in coronavirus deaths in Ireland, it has been confirmed.
Government officials are working through details of establishing facilities for patients who die from Covid-19.
Liz Canavan, assistant secretary for social policy for the Taoiseach, said they are preparing for the "deeply sensitive issue".
Speaking at a press briefing at Government Buildings today, Ms Canavan said: "We are still, largely, in the preparation phase - getting the country ready and putting the necessary infrastructure in place, in particular the medical infrastructure, to deal with the surge when it comes.
"A group of senior officials from across government and relevant agencies is working together on this matter and is guided and informed by the need for compassion and care for the families who will be affected."
Ms Canavan also said that 170 Irish citizens left Perth in Australia on Wednesday afternoon.
This group, which includes a group of Irish medics, is expected to arrive back in Ireland today.
Hundreds of other Irish citizens who are stranded in parts of Australia have appealed for help from the government.
Many have been left thousands of euro out of pocket after their flights back to Dublin were cancelled by airlines.
The Government says it is trying to help more than 2,000 Irish citizens in 86 countries who are seeking help to return to Ireland.
Restrictions are also being put in place in prisons across the country to help prevent spread of coronavirus among prisoners and staff.
Only one adult is allowed to visit each prisoner and visitors will have to fill out a questionnaire as part of their screening.
Visiting times have also been limited to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, RTÉ will launch its new Home School Hub on TV and online from Monday.
The hub will give primary school children daily lessons that aim to build on and support the remote education being provided by teachers all across the country.
From Monday short lessons will be aired on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player and rte.ie/learn.
Children will be able to watch or download and engage with curriculum-based content, project work and activities.
The developments come as the Government discusses emergency legislation in the Dáil today.
The measures aim to protect tenants who have been impacted by Covid-19.
There will be a moratoriums on evictions and rent increases for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency so people can stay in their homes during this period.
The legislation will also increase notice period for tenancies of less than six months from 28 to 90 days.
Meanwhile, worldwide coronavirus infections are set to top half a million people.
Italy and the United States appear poised to surpass China, where the pandemic began, while healthcare systems in Europe and New York buckle under the weight of caring for seriously ill victims of Covid-19.
Faced with the exponential spread of the pandemic, the US Senate has passed a $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and healthcare systems.