IRELAND'S SOCIAL distancing measures could remain in place until a vaccine for coronavirus is found, the Minister for Health has warned.
Speaking yesterday at a press conference before a further 992 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, Minister Simon Harris said there will be "no magic point" at the beginning of May where life can return to normal.
Minister Harris was referencing the 5 May date which lockdown measures have been extended to after the initial 12 April date passed.
It is likely, he said, that restrictions will not be fully lifted on that date, but some may be tweaked depending on how much progress is made.
"I think being truthful, social distancing is going to remain a very big part of life not just in Ireland but the world over," he admitted.
Social distancing measures would likely continue until a vaccine is discovered or "an effective treatment for the coronavirus" is found, he continued.
Experts at the World Health Organisation have predicted that a vaccine for Covid-19 will not be available for between 12 to 18 months from now, while researchers at Oxford University are working on a vaccine that they say could be ready in six months-- although they admitted their goal is highly ambitious and faces many obstacles.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Health, yesterday urged people to continue following the guidelines that are in place to slow the spread of the virus.
Acknowledging that it is difficult for people to stay apart from loved ones and remain in their homes, he said "the next three weeks will prove crucial to Ireland's COVID-19 story and by working together we give ourselves the best chance to slow the spread and save lives".
The Republic of Ireland currently has 10,647 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
A total of 365 people have passed away after contracting the virus.