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Two Clare schools close for two weeks after pupil among four people to test positive for Covid-19 in the west

Another school in the north of the county has advised parents to keep their children at home today.

Image: sam boal/rollingnews

Updated Mar 5th 2020, 11:48 AM

TWO SCHOOLS IN Clare have issued closure notices after it was confirmed that a pupil had tested positive for Covid-19.

Parents of children attending the two schools were sent text messages yesterday evening informing them a pupil had tested positive for the virus and the school would be closed until further notice.

The primary and secondary schools in North Clare will remain closed until 18 March to stop the spread of the virus.

Another school in the north of the county has advised parents to keep their children at home today pending advice from the HSE.

In a text to parents last night, management said:

A child in our school has tested positive for Covid-19 and as a precaution, school is closed from tomorrow (Thursday) for 14 days. Re-opening 18th March. Public health doctors will contact you individually from tomorrow on.

The text also stated that Confirmation for the school has been cancelled as a result.

Speaking to reporters, Health Minister Simon Harris indicated that the four people in Clare who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 caught the virus in northern Italy, and that contact tracing was continuing.

“There has been no community spread of the virus,” he said, adding that there has been no case in the Republic of Ireland where someone who hasn’t been to an affected area has been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Harris says that there will be more cases of Covid-19 in Ireland and that he expected that more schools would close, but added that it was “really important that schools do not act unilaterally”.

He said that it’s important that the public healthcare protocol is followed where there are confirmed cases, and some information is given to the public through the media about confirmed cases, without compromising patient confidentiality. 

Decision on sick pay changes will be made on Monday at the sub committee meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he added.

Earlier, it was confirmed that four more cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in Ireland, bringing the total to six in the State.

The four, two male and two female patients, were reported to be from the western part of the country and had travelled from the same affected area in northern Italy. It’s understood the four are part of the one family.

Within an hour of the Department of Health confirmation the new cases, parents of children at a national school in Clare received a text from school management confirming the school would remain closed until 18 March.

One parent of a child attending the school said:

“We (parents) all got a text tonight confirming that a child in the school had been confirmed as testing positive for the virus. We really don’t know what to do now. There’s been a lot of talk on the parent’s WhatsApp group and we haven’t a clue what will happen next.”

My child is off school for the next two weeks which means I’ll have to stay at home and take time off my job. That’s going to be very very tough. I can’t really ask someone else to mind him in case he has picked it up. I don’t know what to do.

Overnight, parents of pupils attending a secondary school in north Clare were advised that the school would remain closed today.

The text said: “(School) will remained closed Thurs 5th March pending advice from HSE re. Covid-19 (coronavirus) cases in locality. Will advise further tomorrow.”

The Central Bank has also confirmed that one if its employees is being tested for Covid-19. A statement said that the HSE has advised the Central Bank to continue business as normal, and so its premises remains open.

“We are committed to respecting the privacy of our colleague at this time and will take all necessary steps to ensure the welfare of our staff,” the statement said.

The Central Bank later confirmed that its employee tested negative for Covid-19.


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Latest HSE advice

The HSE’s main advice page on the coronavirus has been changed overnight to note the new case in the Republic. 

In a section detailing the risk of catching the virus, the latest advice says:

The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low. This may change. However, most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

Anyone who knows they have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and has symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, fever) should:

  • Isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room, with a phone
  • Phone their GP, or emergency department – if this is not possible, phone 112, or 999
  • In a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Close contact means either:

  • Face-to-face contact
  • Spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of an infected person
  • Living in the same house as an infected person

More details on how to protect yourself from Covid-19 are available on the HSE website

- With reporting from Adam Daly, Christina Finn, Gráinne Ní Aodha and Eoghan Moloney

About the author:

Pat Flynn

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