IRELAND'S MINISTER for Health has stated that an estimated 3,500 lives have been saved by social distancing measures since the coronavirus pandemic began.
Minister Harris was speaking yesterday at the Dáil where he provided updates on the figures and stated that Ireland's restrictive social distancing measures has so far saved thousands of lives.
"That is 3,500 reasons to stay at home," he told the Dáil. "3,500 reasons to stay the course and 3,500 reasons to keep with us on this journey."
Thanking the Irish people for adhering to the guidelines, Mr Harris continued to say that there was still no room for complacency, stating "we must finish the job" and "stay united" if we want to continue saving lives.
Explaining the figures, Mr Harris said that when restrictions were first implemented the virus was spreading across the country with a reproductive (R) rate of 2.4-- this R rate has now dropped to between 0.5 and 0.8, meaning that on average, a person with coronavirus is infecting less than one additional person each time.
If the higher rate of 2.4 had continued, they expect that approximately 4,800 people would have died from the virus so far, with 2,200 people critically ill in ICU.
The Government are expected to update the Irish people on the lockdown measures today, having preciously extended social distancing measures to 5 May.
Mr Harris acknowledged that "people want us to map out what the the next phase looks like for Ireland.
"We will provide a clear sense of direction but in the meantime our collective objective remains to suppress this virus.
"We must do everything we can to stay safe and protect each other."