DUBLIN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Tuesday called on the public to be fully prepared for a prolonged impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the country and promised that his government will do whatever it requires to do in the battle against the disease.
In a national televised speech, Varadkar said Ireland is "in the midst of a global and national emergency -- a pandemic, the likes of which none of us has seen before."
"So far the number of cases in Ireland has been relatively small. However, we believe that number will rise to 15,000 cases or more by the end of the month and rise further in the weeks thereafter," he warned.
He further noted that "this emergency is likely to go on well beyond March 29. It could go on for months into the summer."
On March 12, the Irish government announced a number of measures in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the country, including shutdown of all the schools and state-run cultural institutions across the country and a nationwide ban on any indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people.
On March 15, the government further ordered the closure of all the pubs and bars across Ireland.
All the above-mentioned measures will remain in place until at least March 29.
To date, there are altogether 292 confirmed cases of COVID and two COVID-19-related deaths in Ireland, according to the figures released by the Irish health department on Tuesday evening.