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Ireland is locking down again

Pictured at the Covid-19 media briefing in Dr. Steevens’ Hospital in Dublin today is Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer of the Health Services Executive. Photo by Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

By Irish Echo Staff

Northern Ireland is going into an expanded lockdown from tomorrow, Friday and three border counties in the Republic, Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal, are at Level 4 lockdown, the second highest rating.

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The Republic has a one to five rating system for lockdown and the remaining 23 counties are currently at Level 3.

The North was reporting 763 new Covid-19 cases today, Thursday, and four additional deaths. In the Republic, hospitalization rates due to Covid have been edging up in recent days. The Thursday number of hospitalized Covid patients was 238.

The deteriorating situation in Ireland, a reflection of a similar surge of Covid cases in next door Britain and on the European continent, could see greater restrictions on cross-border movement between north and south.

This possibility has been signaled by Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.

“We have seen a dramatic spike in terms of infection spread in Northern Ireland, particularly in the Derry/Strabane area, Mr. Coveney told RTE in an interview.

“We have also, and I don’t think it’s by coincidence, seen Donegal as having the highest incidence rate in Ireland right now, right next door. We have got to work together.

“There may be two jurisdictions on the island. There is one land mass where populations move and can infect each other, so we have to have a common approach or at least as close to that as possible in terms of restrictions and managing the spread of infection, so we understand fully what is happening in each other’s jurisdictions.

“We are only going to restrict movement if it’s agreed by jurisdictions between both governments and fully explained to people.”

Mr. Coveney said the Irish government was not in the business of erecting barriers on the border.

“We fought for two years to make sure that doesn’t happen as a consequence of Brexit,” he said.

“That being said, we are restricting movement between counties in the Republic of Ireland, so we need to be talking directly to the Executive about how movement is being restricted in Northern Ireland,” he added.