President Michael D Higgins has offered his "deepest sympathies" to people who have been bereaved during the coronavirus pandemic across the country and appealed for everyone to abide by the restrictions that have been put in place.

He also thanked on behalf of the presidency and the Irish people all the efforts of those tackling the crisis, especially "health care workers, GPs, pharmacists and their staff, Defence Forces, and An Garda Síochána".

In a recorded special message broadcast on local, regional and community radio stations today, the President said of those on the frontline: "We owe all of you an enormous debt of gratitude. We owe, too, a debt of gratitude to the many others who are risking their safety in order to ensure the continued delivery of necessary services – those who work in food production and essential retail, those who continue to care for the vulnerable, and the many others who are making an extraordinary and exemplary contribution to our country at this difficult time."

To those who had lost loved ones, President Higgins said: "The pain of losing a loved one to this cruel disease has been compounded for so many by the inability of friends and family to offer consolation and support in the way we usually would.

"The shake of a hand, a sympathetic touch, a comforting embrace, even our physical presence for those few days following a sudden loss, are not available to us for the very good reason that we are all involved in slowing and overcoming the virus."

He added: "To those of you, too, who have loved ones in intensive care or who are waiting for results of a test, we offer our solidarity."

The President appealed to everyone to heed the Government's advice and abide by the restrictions which have been put in place.

"This is a time when each and every one of us has been asked to make temporary but significant changes to our lives, so as to enable us to protect as best we can those who are most vulnerable to this virus," he said.

"Further restrictions were introduced over the weekend and difficult as they are, I urge you to abide by them, for all of our sakes."

President Higgins appealed for everyone to be unified and support each other, so as to keep each other safe.

He concluded with an appeal to support local media and local businesses when the virus passes.

"Casann an roth – the wheel turns," he said. "This virus will pass and when it does we can show our appreciation by supporting even more what is local – radio stations, newspapers and the local economy in every way, including retail and services."