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Coronavirus: St Patrick's Festival organisers say they'll ‘follow advice in all matters of public safety'

The Department of Health said this evening that the Six Nations game due to take place a week before Patrick’s Day shouldn’t go ahead.

Participants in the parade last year.
Participants in the parade last year.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

THE ORGANISERS OF the St Patrick’s Festival in Dublin have said they will “follow the advice” of all relevant authorities amidst the worldwide coronavirus outbreak.

This evening, health minister Simon Harris confirmed that it was the clear view of the of the National Public Health Emergency Team that the Ireland vs Italy Six Nations game should not go ahead in the interests of public safety.

That Six Nations game was scheduled to take place on Saturday 7 March. The St Patrick’s Festival is due to take place from 13-17 March.

So far, 11 people have died in Italy from the coronavirus and over 300 cases have been diagnosed. Cases of coronavirus were also confirmed in southern Italy, Austria, Croatia and Switzerland this afternoon. 

China today reported 508 new cases and another 71 deaths as of today, 68 of them in the central city of Wuhan, where the epidemic was first detected in December.

In a statement this evening, Department of Health chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the decision to urge the cancellation of the rugby game was justified.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is to also establish a subgroup to develop criteria to conduct a risk assessment of other mass gatherings.

Holohan said: “Based on European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) guidelines, the cancellation of mass gatherings in this phase is justified in exceptional circumstances, and today’s recommendation to cancel the Ireland v Italy rugby match is based on the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak in northern Italy, and the consequent risk of importation of cases into Ireland were the match to go ahead.”

With the St Patrick’s Festival – which features dozens of events over five days and nights in Dublin – attracting tens of thousands of tourists and due to take place a week later, organisers said it would follow all advice on the matter.

A spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “St Patrick’s Festival is monitoring the situation regarding COVID-19 and will continue to do so. We follow the advice and direction of relevant authorities in all matters of public safety.”

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Sean Murray

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