Health Minister Simon Harris has confirmed that Ireland has moved into the delay phase of COVID-19.
The announcement came just moments after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the closure of all schools, colleges, cultural institutions and childcare centres beginning at 6pm on Thursday evening.
Speaking at a press briefing in Washington, Varadkar announced that the emergency measures will remain in place until March 29.
The public has also been advised that indoor mass gatherings of over 100 people and outdoor mass gatherings of over 500 people should be cancelled.
The National Public Health Emergency Team met last night (Wednesday 11 March) to review latest evidence of the spread of COVID-19. NPHET has made a recommendation that Ireland move to Delay Phase.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) March 12, 2020
Minister Harris spoke in Dublin soon after An Taoiseach spoke in Washington and confirmed Ireland's move from the containment to the delay phase.
What is the delay phase?
The delay phase involves the introduction of social restriction measures to attempt to slow the rate at which the virus is currently spreading.
Social distancing measures will be encouraged and have already been implemented in the form of the school and college closures as well as the urge to work from home and limitation of large social gatherings.
What's the next phase?
The next potential phase with which Ireland will attempt to deal with coronavirus will be mitigation, which will involve the care for people who have fallen ill and support of healthcare professionals.