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Coronavirus aid: €3bn emergency funding approved for HSE, sick pay and businesses

The measures come as concerns grow over the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland

The government earlier approved a package of €3bn to support the HSE, social welfare payments to the sick and businesses who may be affected by the spread of coronavirus Covid-19.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Leo Varadkar has warned 50-60% of the population could contract the virus, and the government response needs to be strong.

“We could easily have 50, 60% of the population contracting Covid-19 for whom the vast majority will be a mild illness, maybe even asymptomatic”, said Mr. Varadker at a press briefing earlier today.

“Maybe you won’t even know you have it. But there will be a significant portion who require critical care.”

The Dáil may be recalled early to pass legislation to allow for sick pay to be paid from the first day of illness.

At present, no payment is made for the first six days of illness, referred to as ‘waiting days’, excluding Sundays.

Many of the resources that had been put aside to deal with Brexit are now being repurposed.

Two €200m funds for businesses will be made available to those hit by the downturn caused by the coronavirus, a further €430m has been allocated to the HSE.

The government has estimated €2.4bn will need to be put aside to provide sick pay for those forced to self isolate and this will be extended to the self employed and be available from day one of the leave.

More information in relation to mass gatherings will be published on Tuesday.

Italian situation worsens

Meanwhile, Italy’s prime minister has declared the entire country a ‘red zone’ – with restrictions on people’s movements.

Giuseppe Conte says the tough new measures to combat coronavirus will come into effect tomorrow morning.

He says people should not move other than for work and emergencies.

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