All Irish schools could be closed due to coronavirus - according to Health Minister Simon Harris
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All Irish schools could be closed due to coronavirus - according to Health Minister Simon Harris

EVERY SCHOOL in Ireland could be set to close amid growing coronavirus fears.

Health Minister Simon Harris has warned that "more restrictions", including school closures, will likely be needed to contain the outbreak.

Speaking on RTE's Prime Time this evening he said that the measures need to be introduced "at the right time" to ensure the best effects.

"We have to be very honest with people," said Harris. "We are going to see a lot more cases here".

He continued: "There may be a time when we close schools. As of now we need you to take all measures to keep family well and look after those in the community. But there will in all likelihood be a point when we have to introduce more restrictions."

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Minister for Health Simon Harris

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said that while there were no current plans to close schools across the country, any such decision would be made "on public health advice".

"The Department of Education and Skills is liaising closely with the Department of Health on a continuing basis.

"Any decision to close schools will be made on public health advice. There is no such advice at this point.

"It is essential that any decisions regarding responses to Covid-19 are proportionate, necessary and based on specific public health advice. No other response is appropriate.

"Public health professionals will contact schools if there is any action to be taken. Schools should not take unilateral action.

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"Schools, pre-schools and higher education settings have been provided with advice and guidance in respect of Covid-19. There is up to date guidance for schools and parents on  education.ie/covid19.

"The Department is deeply conscious of the significance of decisions concerning school closures, and the potential impact any such decisions would have on parents, families and the wider community.

"This is an evolving situation and the health advice is being updated on a daily basis. The Department of Education and Skills and Department of Health will continue to work closely together on this issue."