The calm before the storm; Taoiseach says 'we are all in this together'

The calm before the storm; Taoiseach says 'we are all in this together'

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: Coronavirus emergency to continue well beyond March, but we are in this together.

ON what he described as a St Patrick’s Day like no other, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said now was the time for the nation to unite in the face of coronavirus, saying “we are all in this together”.

In a live address to the nation tonight, the Taoiseach said the whole country must work together and in support of our healthcare workers.

“This is the calm before the storm, before the surge and when it comes — and it will come — never will so many ask so much from so few,” he said. “We will do all we can to support them.”

He described the Covid-19 outbreak as “a global pandemic, the likes of which we have never seen before. We can’t stop the virus, but we can slow it in its tracks,” he said, reiterating the need to avoid “close human contact.”

He said the current emergency is likely to go on beyond March 29 and could last many months into the summer. He also acknowledged the impact on the economy and livelihoods and said supports would be put in place.

Mr Varadkar said that at a certain point, elderly and people with a long term illness will be advised to stay at home for several weeks and systems are being put in place to make sure these people have food supplies, and are checked on.

He said that it is a vital step in order to protect “the most vulnerable, most precious in our society”.

“I know it’s going to be very difficult to stay away from our loved ones. Most grandparents just want to give their grandkids a hug and a kiss around about now, but as hard as it is, we need to keep our physical distance to stop the virus.”

He asked the public to make sure those living alone are not left alone and advised people to check in on their neighbours by phoning them.

Mr Varadkar said hospitals and care centres are being “tooled up” with essential equipment and retired staff are returning to service and people are training for changed roles.

He said that coronavirus is already having an impact on jobs and economic activity but said support would be put in place.

“Some people watching will have seen their jobs lost, business closed or working hours reduced. More will be worried that it might happen to them too, especially when we don’t know when the emergency will end.

“I know this is causing huge stress and anxiety to you and your family.

“You will receive income support as quickly and efficiently as possible and when we’ve been through the worst, we will get people back to work.

“We have the capacity and credit ratings to borrow billions if we need to. I’m confident that our economy will bounce back but the damage will be significant and lasting, the bill will be enormous and it may take years to pay it.”

He acknowledged the fear many are feeling but added: “We will get through this and we will prevail.”

He called on people to only listen to trusted sources such as the government, the HSE, the World Health Organisation and national media.

“Please don’t forward or share messages from other unreliable sources," he said.

“Viruses pay no attention to borders, race, nationality or gender, they are the shared enemy of all humanity and so will be a shared enterprise of all humanity who find a cure,” he added.

He made the rare and historic statement hours after a total of 69 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland.

The total number of confirmed cases now stands at 292.

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