Coronavirus: Ireland to close all schools and colleges until end of March over COVID-19

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Coronavirus: Ireland to close all schools and colleges until end of March over COVID-19

(SKY NEWS) – All schools, colleges and childcare facilities in Ireland will close tomorrow until the end of the month, the country’s leader has said.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar made the announcement, saying the measures to combat the spread of coronavirus will remain in place until 29 March.

He made a live statement to the nation from Washington DC, where he is due to meet President Donald Trump as part of the annual St Patrick’s Day programme of events.

Mr Varadkar said the action had to be taken to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“We are a great nation and we have overcome many trials in the past with our determination, and we will prevail again,” he said.

Mr Varadakar said that acting as one nation could save lives and that the economy will suffer, but “we can bounce back”.

He added: “I know that some of this is coming as a real shock and it’s going to involve big changes in the way we live our lives, and I know I am asking people to make enormous sacrifices.

“But we are doing it for each other – together we can slow the virus in its tracks and push it back.”

He told the nation that many more people in Ireland would get coronavirus and would get sick, adding: “Unfortunately we must face the tragic reality that some people will die,” he said.

Other key coronavirus developments include:

-A UK paramedic has tested positive for the coronavirus
-Greece has reported its first death from the illness – a 66-year-old man with underlying health problems
-Austria has recorded its first coronavirus fatality after a 69-year-old man died in Vienna
-Iran has said there have been 75 more deaths in the country, bringing the total to 429
-Poland has reported its first death from the coronavirus, authorities in the country have said
-All schools, universities and nurseries will close for two weeks in Lithuania
-South Africa, where there are 17 cases, has reported its first case of locally transmitted coronavirus
-There are now 2,078 cases of the virus in Germany
-Slovakia will close all schools for 14 days
-Spain’s parliament has extended its suspension for 15 days
-The NBA basketball season has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic
-Spain has suspended all its La Liga football games, according to reports in the country
-The Real Madrid football team is in quarantine after a member of its basketball team tested positive for the virus
-Norway is considering closing several of its airports, according to airport operator Avinor
-The Czech Republic is set to bring in controls on its borders with Germany and Austria
-Kenya’s athletics authority has barred its athletes from travelling to international events
-Mass gatherings of 250 people or more have been banned in California
-Kazakhstan has suspended all public events in a bid to stop the spread of the virus
-Thailand’s health ministry has reported 11 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total to 70
-Denmark has shut all schools and universities after a 10-fold rises in cases since Monday
-The St Patrick’s Day parade in New York City has been cancelled
-China’s coronavirus adviser has said he expects the global pandemic to be over by June
-WHO chief Tedros Adhanom has said he fears some countries are not taking the virus seriously enough

While schools and colleges are closed, teaching will be done online or remotely.

In addition, indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor meetings of more than 500 will be cancelled.

Cultural institutions will also be shut.

However, public transport will operate as normal and shops will remain open. Restaurants and cafes likewise, although they should try to implement official advice on social distancing.

Mr Varadkar said that people would be encouraged to work from home, but where people do congregate in offices, break times should be “staggered”.

Meetings should be done remotely but restaurants, cafes and other businesses can stay open, he added.

“People should seek to reduce social interactions as much as possible,” Mr Varadkar said.

People entering the country will be told about the new measures and asked to self-isolate if they begin displaying symptoms.

Mr Varadkar said he was acting on new advice from the country’s National Public Health Emergency Team.

He said the government had a duty to protect those most at risk from coronavirus, such as older people and those with underlying conditions.

Health minister Simon Harris said the government was asking older people to reduce their contacts outside their homes.

He added that Ireland had officially moved to the “delay” phase of its response to COVID-19, which aims to reduce the peak impact of the virus and slow its spread.

“We have not witnessed a pandemic of this nature in living memory and this is uncharted territory for us,” Mr Varadkar said.

“We said we would take the right actions at the right time and we have to move now to have the greatest impact.”

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