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Coronavirus: Advice about Ireland v Italy Six Nations game and other public events to be reviewed today, says Harris

The Department of Health will review its advice in relation to mass gatherings today.

Simon Harris earlier this month.
Simon Harris earlier this month.
Image: PA

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Simon Harris has said advice relating to “mass gatherings” including the Ireland v Italy Six Nations game in less than two weeks will reviewed today due to coronavirus concerns. 

Speaking to reporters today, Harris said there is a “high likelihood” Ireland could see a confirmed case of Covid-19 in the coming days and weeks. 

The Ireland v Italy Six Nations game is due to take place on 7 March in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Five people have died so far in Italy from Covid-19 and the country has the most confirmed cases of any European country. 

Harris said there are “no plans as of now” to cancel the match or any other mass gatherings in the future, including the large St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin city centre next month. 

“There will be some big decisions that have to be made in the coming days including mass gatherings. Most particularly, I’m thinking of the Ireland-Italy rugby game that’s due to take place in the not-too distant future,” Harris said today. 

“We’re reviewing today advice in relation to situations like mass gatherings like large matches and the National Public Health Emergency team will meet tomorrow. 

“The chances of a coronavirus case in Ireland or indeed anywhere in the European Union outside of Italy has significantly increased but it’s really important and that we act in accordance with best health advice,” he said. 

A spokesperson for the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said the Ireland v Italy games that weekend “remain as scheduled”. 

“The IRFU will follow government advice on such fixtures,” the spokesperson said. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has advised Irish citizens to avoid travelling to areas in Italy affected by the coronavirus due to recent increases in confirmed cases. 

The National Public Health Emergency team held a special meeting last night and will meet again tomorrow, Harris said. 

“All of the advice that Ireland is taking and following, and all of the advice it will continue to take, will be in accordance with the world Health Organisation guidelines and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.”

Harris advised any members of the public who feel unwell today and who may have been in contact with anyone who has the Covid-19 virus or who has come from a region where there has been an outbreak to contact their GP by phone or contact HSE Live online or by phone. 

With reporting by Dominic McGrath.  

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