Shutdown of schools in Republic due to coronavirus

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Minister Harris spoke in Dublin soon after An Taoiseach spoke in Washington and confirmed Ireland's move from the containment to the delay phase.

Last evening, the chief medical officer at the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, said it was possible the closure of schools, creches, childcare facilities, and higher education institutions taking effect today may yet have to be extended beyond the 29th of March, depending on how the spread of the virus progresses in the meantime.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the UK Government's COBRA committee is expected to take place in the afternoon.

It comes after the White House banned travellers from 26 European countries from entering the United States on Wednesday, excluding passengers from Ireland and the UK.

At the time of Trump's speech, the United Kingdom was reporting 460 confirmed cases of coronavirus and eight deaths.

In Northern Ireland, 20 people are known to have contracted it.

In his statement, the Taoiseach said that indoor gatherings of 100 people and outdoor gatherings of 500 people should be cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Anyone entering Ireland will be informed of the measures and asked to self-isolate if they are displaying any symptoms of the rapidly spreading virus.

Suspicions continued to spread on social media following the video, with one person asking "Is that a really, really, really dark orange or did they accidentally put the Italian flag outside the White House?"

Italian government closes St. Peter’s Basilica and square, due to coronavirus
Public transport will remain operational, but Conte says he wants as many people as possible to stay at home. Francis has enjoyed generally good health, although he had part of one lung removed as a younger man.

Public transport will operate as normal and shops will open.

Both the public and businesses need to adopt a "sensible, level-headed and responsible approach", he said, during what he called a "difficult time".

Mr Varadkar said: "People should seek to reduce social interactions as much as possible". We'll be discussing some other moves that we're going to be making.

"We will continue to liaise with Government officials and review the situation between now and the end of the month, assessing the impact of these measures on our competitions".

He said the government would implement all resources, which are "substantial but not unlimited", into addressing the issue.

Mr Johnson said he is still considering whether to cancel major sporting events and mass gatherings. More people will get sick, and we have to face the tragic reality that more people will die.

He continued, "Our economy will suffer, but it will bounce back". 'Above all we all need to look out for each other.

'We've overcome many trials in the past with our determination and our spirit and once again we will prevail'.

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