By Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The Irish government on Friday announced strict new COVID-19 restrictions for the capital Dublin, banning indoor restaurant dining and advising against all non-essential travel, after a surge in cases in recent days.
Ireland, which was one of the slowest countries in Europe to emerge from lockdown, has seen average daily case numbers roughly double in the past two weeks and significant increases in those being treated for the virus in hospitals.
"Here in the capital, despite people's best efforts over recent weeks, we are in a very dangerous place," prime minister Micheal Martin said in a televised address to the country, announcing the restrictions.
"Without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst days of this crisis."
The measures, which include a ban on indoor events, will last for three weeks, he said.
Ireland had the 17th highest COVID-19 infection rate out of 31 European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control on Friday, with 57.4 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.
The government reported three deaths from the virus on Friday, bringing the total toll to 1,792.
Countries across Europe, including Britain, Greece and Denmark, on Friday announced new restrictions to curb surging coronavirus infections in some of their largest cities.
Ireland on Thursday tightened its COVID-19 travel restrictions by imposing quarantines on travellers from major holiday markets Italy and Greece.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Kirsten Donovan)
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