Lockdown in Ireland likely to be extended - according to health officials
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Lockdown in Ireland likely to be extended - according to health officials

LOCKDOWN MEASURES are more than likely to be extended beyond April 12, according to Irish health officials.

Despite the initial deadline of Easter Sunday, it appears gathering restrictions and travel bans may stay in place beyond that date.

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer of the Department of Health, said on Thursday that Ireland is not yet on course to avoid "the nightmare scenario" of healthcare capacity being overwhelmed.

Due to this fear, lifting restrictions as early as the Sunday after next would be risky.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said that it was "difficult to say" exactly when lockdown measures would be extended to, but hinted that things would stay as they are for the entirety of April at least - sentiments which were echoed by Dr Holohan.

"If we keep growing at the rate at which we're growing, we will not avoid that scenario [overwhelming healthcare capacity], so we need to keep improving," Holohan said.

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"There are two ways to do that, one is to continue to suppress and drive down the infection rates - that's the most important strategy. It's clear that by flattening the wave, we have saved many, many lives.

"Secondly, we have to have capacity if we need it. But we don't want to be admitting people to ICU."

Despite the need to stay cautious, Dr Holohan said that it was impossible to ignore the effects the lockdown measures were having on the country.

"We're very conscious of the scale of impact that this is having on society. Whether it's people in the educational system, the workplace, or society generally, the ask is significant, so it weighs heavily on us," he added.

"We don't come to the government to ask for measures, as we have three times, without giving significant consideration. This is unprecedented territory in society."