Dragging it down
by Hazel Gavigan

There are now 1,564 cases of the virus in the Republic of Ireland after a further 235 new cases were confirmed yesterday evening. Over a quarter of those cases are front line health workers, spurring SIPTU to urge the Government to urgently review its approach of regular Covid-19 testing for all health workers.


SIPTU also reported that personal protective equipment is not readily available to all health workers in the quantities required. To help address this, Aer Lingus is to over fly five of its largest aircrafts packed with health supplies from China daily. The airline plans to send its Airbus A330 passenger planes to Beijing up to 60 times to collect medical equipment ordered by the HSE.


In other aviation news, Ryanair will continue to operate a limited number of flights to some European destinations. The airline has grounded 90% of its fleet until April 2nd, saying it expects flights to remain that way throughout May.


Elsewhere, the representative body for airlines based in Britain has written to its transport minister seeking industry-specific tax and air traffic fee holidays to help survive the pandemic that has brought air travel to a standstill. EasyJet, IAG-owned British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have no revenue coming in, forcing them to ground hundreds of planes, and putting thousands of jobs and the future of the sector at risk. (IAG also owns Aer Lingus.)


Meanwhile, Irish citizens stranded across the globe are pleading with the Government to urgently bring them home as countries continue to shut down transport hubs.


The Irish Times has done a Q&A on income support and who qualifies for it. Fórsa welcomed the scheme yesterday after it had been calling for something similar to be introduced for a number of days prior. 


Jobs around the country continue to be affected by Covid-19 as the NUJ has called on local newspaper groups to withdraw the threat of temporary layoffs and review cutback decisions already taken, while 

it's suggested multinationals could halt building in the Republic as work currently continues on high-profile projects such as the National Children’s Hospital and Grangegorman university site.


In some non-coronavirus related news, (phew!) abortions in Northern Ireland can take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy "without conditionality", and with no time limit in cases of a fatal foetal abnormality under new laws coming into force next week.


And finally, we all remember that viral clip from the BBC where two children interrupted a man's home-interview, well the whole family is back discussing how social-distancing is going in South Korea. 


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