Stephen Donnelly: Ireland's cabinet 'restricting their movements' after health minister reportedly has COVID-19 test

September 15, 2020

Ireland's entire cabinet will "restrict their movements" after the health minister felt unwell and was tested for coronavirus, it has been reported.

Stephen Donnelly began to feel unwell this afternoon and contacted his doctor for a coronavirus test, according to broadcaster RTE.

The Irish parliament will reconvene at 8pm on Tuesday, after it was suspended earlier out of an "abundance of caution", Prime Minister Micheal Martin said.

Mr Martin told RTE television that government ministers will restrict their movements while they wait for the results of the COVID-19 test being taken by Mr Donnelly. It had been reported earlier that they would self-isolate.

Mr Donnelly had attended cabinet on Tuesday morning and later gave a press conference with the Irish prime minister and deputy prime minister.

The trio revealed the country's new six-month five-level COVID-19 plan, offering a blueprint for reopening Ireland's economy and social and cultural life.

It comes amid a spike in coronavirus infections, with Ireland's health department announcing a four-month high of 357 new cases on Tuesday. 218 of those cases were in Dublin.

There have also been three more coronavirus-related deaths in the country, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team. A total of 1,787 people have died with the virus in Ireland.

The whole country has been placed at Level 2 of the plan, which allows up to six people from three households to gather in homes and outside.

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However, Dublin is facing extra restrictions, due to a higher infection rate in the capital, which only allows residents to meet with one other household.

A total of 95 cases per 100,000 are currently being recorded in Dublin - 50% more than the next worst-affected county.

Ireland's deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said: "The situation in our capital is worrying and has deteriorated in the past few weeks.

"The level of the virus circulating in our city and county has increased more than tenfold in the past two months. The positivity ratio is around 3.5% against around 2% in the rest of the country."

He added: "If this continues, it may not be possible to keep the virus out of our hospitals, nursing homes and factories no matter how hard we try.

"We'll experience a second wave of hospitalisations, people needing admission to ICU and sadly more deaths."

Mr Donnelly added a move from Level 2 to the more restrictive Level 3 would have a "serious impact on jobs" and "how we can live our lives".

He said: "We're all watching what's going on in Dublin, the people of Dublin understand that the situation is escalating very, very quickly and people in Dublin, I think, welcome the public health doctors providing this advice."

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