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Ministers hold Covid-19 press conference after HSE advice on play dates

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross are holding a press conference on Covid-19.

The HSE has clarified its position on play dates over the next two weeks.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has also said that pharmacies across the country are remaining open and that medicines will continue to be available to treat patients.

Parents are being advised to limit the number of children involved in play dates and to make sure they are not displaying any symptoms.

There had been some confusion around play dates while thousands of children are home from schools and colleges, and creches are closed.

Around 900,000 school children in almost 4,000 schools are to stay at home for the next two weeks, while thousands more children and toddlers are out of creches.

Dr Sarah Doyle from the HSE said play dates are fine, but only a small number of children should be involved.

Dr Doyle said: "If you are having a play date, limit your number to teach your children how to interact.

"Obviously, if a child is sick they shouldn't be coming, they shouldn't be having a play date, so it's being very realistic and practical in minimising the risk while allowing some semblance of normality to continue."

Parents all over the country are working from home while trying to keep children busy and active.

Parenting Expert from BabyDoc club Laura Urskin said parents should try and limit screen time.

Ms Urskin said: "Get outside into the fresh air, go for a cycle, go for walks, get out to the park."

She added that there are plenty of activities to keep children occupied indoors also.

She said: "Get into the kitchen, get them baking together, it's a really fun way to spend some time with your child, no matter how old they are."

People are being reminded to use their common sense, practice social distancing and continue washing their hands.

IPU Secretary General Darragh O’ Loughlin said pharmacies "are available to help and support the health service in any way we can, including the dissemination of information and advice to the public”.

He reiterated the warning that there is absolutely no need for the public to stockpile any medicines.

“While pharmacies have experienced an understandable increase in demand in recent days, there are no supply shortages, stockpiling is completely unnecessary and, in fact, could itself trigger drug shortages,” he said.

Several dioceses across the country have cancelled all Masses until after March 29.

It is up to each individual diocese to decide whether the services can go ahead, but the dioceses of Elphin, Kilmore and Limerick are among those who have decided to call them off until the end of the month. Confirmations have also been suspended.

    Useful information

  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999