80 Irish students identified as 'high risk' having returned from coronavirus affected areas in Italy

Ireland v Italy Six Nations match in doubt amid global outbreak

80 Irish students identified as 'high risk' having returned from coronavirus affected areas in Italy

-with reporting by Sean O’Riordan and Evelyn Ring

The IRFU has sought an urgent meeting with Minister for Health Simon Harris after he and the National Public Health Emergency Team called for the cancellation of the upcoming Ireland v Italy Six Nations rugby match, due to the continuing worldwide spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).

The emergency team has also established an expert sub-group to develop criteria for the risk assessment of other mass gatherings, such as the match which is scheduled for the Aviva stadium.

Meanwhile, the emergency team is to immediately mount warning campaigns about the spread of the virus at ports, airports, schools, and public offices.

So far, there have been 90 suspected cases in Ireland, but none of them have tested positive for the virus.

The news came as around 80 students from three Waterford schools were identified as “high risk” for the coronavirus, having returned from affected areas in Italy.

Meanwhile, a number of Irish people staying at the hotel at the centre of a virus outbreak on the Canary island of Tenerife have contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs.

They are among around 1,000 tourists staying at the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel who have been placed in quarantine inside the building.

The department and the Irish embassy in Madrid are closely monitoring the situation in Tenerife and are in touch with the local health and tourist authorities.

Anyone with specific concerns about Irish citizens currently in the affected area can contact the department at 01 4082527.

Three groups of students from three Waterford schools have returned to Ireland in recent days having spent time in the Trentino, Andalo, and Folgaria regions.

The Irish Examiner has confirmed that one group arrived back on February 21, another on the 22, and the other the following day and are now under the watch of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

They are likely to be placed in some form of isolation, sources have suggested, but it is not yet clear if they are to be quarantined.

Parents of the students are currently being contacted by the school and the HSE to begin the process of screening to rule out the presence of the virus.

Pictured at the publication of An Easyguide to Rare Diseases in Ireland and Consensus for Action by the Rare Disease Taskforce is Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health.
Pictured at the publication of An Easyguide to Rare Diseases in Ireland and Consensus for Action by the Rare Disease Taskforce is Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health.

The mother of one Waterford student returned recently from Italy was reportedly told by the HSE that students at St Paul’s CBS were not being treated as being in immediate danger.

This is because the students were in Andolo — 240km from the nearest coronavirus death. As such, they are being categorised as “low risk”. The HSE has said it will keep parents informed if things change.

Senior sources have said that a “media blackout” is being advised and the HSE, when contacted, offered no comment to our queries.

A meeting of National Public Health Emergency Team took place where new protocols about preventing the spread of coronavirus were agreed.

Meanwhile, pupils from three schools in the North were earlier sent home as a precaution against coronavirus after returning from ski trips to Italy.

The pupils from schools in counties Antrim, Derry, and Down, were all on separate trips to Italy recently.

Around 50 pupils and staff from Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena, Co Antrim, were in the Lombardy region in the north of Italy.

Principal Elma Lutton said that, on guidance from the education authority, based on advice from the Public Health Authority, they have asked students to spend 14 days in self-isolation. She said it is a precautionary measure.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control rates the risk of the occurrence of similar clusters of cases in other EU countries as moderate to high.

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