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27th Mar 2020

Simon Harris: Visiting family and friends risks spreading coronavirus in Ireland

Cathy Donohue

Simon Harris has warned that going to visit family and friends can heighten the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus in Ireland.

Community transmission is now responsible for 51% of coronavirus cases in Ireland while travel abroad accounts for 27%.

With less people on the move, the travel figure is likely to further decrease with Minister for Health Simon Harris emphasising the fact that it’s down to “personal individual responsibility” in how we react in the coming weeks.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show on Friday, he said:

“You’re most likely now to pick up this virus, probably in your own home, from your own family.”

Minister Harris said that if we continue to focus on external issues like movement in and out of the country we will miss the point.

“The point of the matter is, if you decide to continue to leave your home unnecessarily, you are risking spreading this virus,” he noted.

Harris added that the government will do everything it possibly can to help but it’s also down to the people of Ireland.

“If you’re leaving your house today to make an unnecessary visit to a friend or a family member, you’re at much greater risk of spreading that virus than anybody else arriving in our country,” he underlined.

“If you’re deciding to pop into the neighbour for a cup of coffee, human things that all we like to do, you’re spreading that virus.

“If you’re deciding to go out in, you know, groups larger than four for a walk or a run or go to a crowded public place, you’re spreading that virus and you’re risking people’s lives.”

In an attempt to make his message as clear as possible, Harris added:

“I need you to stay at home unless you absolutely need to leave your home. Every time you leave your home, every time I leave my home, every time any of us leave our homes and come into contact with more people, we risk spreading the germs that are this virus and we risk it going right throughout our community”.

He also said that there’s no room for complacency here and the virus can affect people of every age, young and old. Minister Harris also warned that we’re likely to see the number of Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

However, he explained that the government and the National Public Health Emergency Team are watching two things in terms of signs of progress.

They are hoping to slow down the rate of growth, so more cases but at a slower rate, and also to slow down the rate of admission to ICU, “protecting older and more vulnerable people”.

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