More than 80 Irish doctors are returning home from Australia to join Ireland's fight against Covid-19.

The doctors say they were inspired by the HSE's 'Be on Call for Ireland' campaign and a desire to be near their families as countries began to introduce tighter travel restrictions.

Those restrictions meant many of the doctors had their original flights cancelled.

As a result, Dr Zoë Lynch got in regular contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs to determine how best to get home.  

"We want to thank Qantas, Aer Lingus, the Department, the embassy, and every Irish person who helped get us home," she said.

In a short time frame, they had to leave their lives in Perth and Melbourne behind including donating clothes to charity shops and selling their cars. 

Last night, they flew from Perth to London before continuing on to Dublin Airport on different flights throughout today. 

The doctors must self-isolate for a period of 14 days before they can join the health service as vital reinforcements. 

"I think it will be really good to have a fresh cohort of doctors to alleviate some of the stress on our colleagues who have been working for weeks on end," said Dr Hilary Coyle.

Earlier, the President of the Medical Council said that 121 new doctors have already joined the register of medical practitioners.

Dr Rita Doyle said that roughly an equal number had returned from abroad or come out of retirement to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

This number is in addition to doctors returning to practice or returning home who had remained on the register.

Dr Doyle said: "I am heartened to see the huge response we are seeing from colleagues who are coming out of retirement, returning to medical practice or returning home to Ireland in response to the national response to the challenges our country face with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The Irish health system and its staff will come under unprecedented pressure during this time, and it is and will be a very challenging time for medical practitioners.

"These doctors are stepping forward to answer Ireland's call to help our country at our time of need and to support our colleagues already on the front lines in this battle."

Dr Doyle told RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke that those re-registering will be on a Covid-19 register and the Minister for Health will decide when that comes to an end.

The current projected end date is 31 July.

Dr Doyle said it takes an average of 72 hours from declaring an interest in returning to being back at work and that her staff have been working day and night to get this done as fast as possible. 

Staff returning from overseas have been told to start processing their registration from abroad so they will be able to hit the ground running as soon as possible.

Dr Doyle said she believed that all of the final-year medical students have completed exams and that the students should have got their results.

This means there will be around 1,000 new interns to register and they should be ready by the end of May.

However, she added that the interns will be staggered into the workplace so that there is not a huge influx at the same time.