President Michael D Higgins has said Covid-19 will "change Ireland as a nation", and will "change the connection between economy and society."

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, President Higgins said "there will not be any distinction between the generations" that have experienced the impact of the coronavirus.

He said he "welcomes the fore fronting of ethics" in how Ireland has responded to help the more vulnerable members of Irish society.

President Higgins also said he expects to see "a much better version of the economy, one where people are at the centre of it, and where monetary and fiscal policy is adjusted to the needs of the people rather than the people adjust to the whims of the economy."

He said it was wonderful to think that Irish people were taking their citizenship so seriously

Speaking on the number of medical professionals returning home to help in light of Covid-19, President Higgins said it was wonderful to think that Irish people are taking their citizenship so seriously.

He said the best way we can express our thanks to those who are on the frontline in Ireland's healthcare system is to follow the HSE guidelines on Covid-19.

Earlier, President Higgins urged the people of Ireland to "give it a lash" and observe social distancing.

Speaking to FM104's Strawberry Alarm Clock breakfast show, he described this week as a "crucial" one for Ireland and said we should look forward to the day when this is all over.

"If we give it a lash in what we're doing this week - in terms of observing the physical distance when we're out doing things and also in relation to other recommendations about hand washing - it means what we do will have a huge effect," President Higgins said.

"It isn't only young people, all sections of the population have their bit to do."

He added that it's "very important" to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, and to concentrate on the time when this will be over.

"Because it will be over, but it will be over with the least loss of life and hardship if we do what is tough now but necessary", he said.

"We're in control of how it will turn out".

The President went on to pay tribute to healthcare workers who are tackling the virus, and said the best thing we could do was to support them.

"We can support them by keeping the strain on services to a manageable limit," President Higgins told Dublin's FM104.

"So everyone who is doing the distancing and hand washing is - to some extent - making the enormous mountain healthcare workers have to climb a bit easier."

The President said he thinks "something good" will come out of all of this, and he urged everyone to "give it a lash and do much more than the minimum".

He also added that his hand washing song of choice is anything by Hozier.