Leo Varadkar declares all schools and colleges to close

By Oisín McGovern

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has just announced that all schools, colleges and childcare facilities are to close from 6pm today due to the threat of coronavirus.

The Taoiseach said that the measures would remain in place until 29 March.

Speaking from a press briefing in Washington, the Taoiseach said that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled.

The Taoiseach did not take any questions from reporters.

Mr Vardakar said Ireland was facing into “uncharted territory” with the threat of coronavirus and that the economy would suffer.

He said that Ireland “would bounce back” and that “our lives would go back to normal”.

Mr Varadkar said there will be more cases and more people will get sick and “unfortunately we must face the tragic reality that some people will die”.

He called for Ireland to pull together as a nation, stating:

“Acting together as one nation we can save many lives… above all we all need to look out for each other. Ireland is a great nation. We are a great people. We have overcome many trials in the past with our determination and our spirit, and we will prevail.”

Ireland is currently treating 43 cases of coronavirus, including two who are being treated in UCHG.

The country’s first fatality was confirmed last night as woman in the east of the country.

An Taoiseach Leo Varakar speaking in Washington this morning

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