Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin [Photo/Agencies]

DUBLIN – Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin on Wednesday announced a number of extra measures in order to suppress the surging COVID-19 cases in the country.

They include a mandatory requirement for all travelers coming into Ireland whose journey originates in Britain and South Africa to provide evidence of a negative result of a COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to their arrival in Ireland.

This requirement will take effect immediately after midnight of Jan. 8 when an extended travel ban on the above mentioned two countries will expire, according to a government statement, which later detailed the new restrictions announced by Martin.

The travel ban was recently imposed by the Irish government following the identification of variants of COVID-19 in Britain and South Africa.

The Irish government also decided that all schools in the country should remain closed until Feb. 1, with exceptions for special education and Leaving Certificate students, referring to those in their last year at high schools.

Local schools are supposed to be reopened on Jan. 11 if not due to the pandemic.

According to the new rules, all the non-essential construction sites should be closed starting from 6 p.m. on Jan. 8, with exceptions for those related to foreign direct investment, export, health, social housing and other essential needs.

Online click and collect service from non-essential retail outlets should no longer be permitted with immediate effect, said the statement, adding that online click and delivery will continue to be permitted.

The extra measures were announced by the Irish government after the current level-5 or the highest-level restrictions have obviously failed to contain the surging COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Irish Department of Health on Wednesday reported another daily record of 7,836 confirmed COVID-19 cases in addition to 17 new deaths related to the virus.

To date, a total of 121,154 people in the country have contracted COVID-19 and 2,299 of them have died from the disease, said the department in a statement.

In another development, Irish Minister for Justice Helen McEntee confirmed in her tweet on Wednesday that she has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating and working remotely at home.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized COVID-19 vaccines.

Meanwhile, 235 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide — 63 of them in clinical trials — in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.