#childsafety | Group of Kildare school kids told to stay home over coronavirus fears

A group of pupils from a Kildare school have been told to stay at home today over fears they may have been exposed to the deadly coronavirus while on a school trip.

The students from Confey College spent a week skiing in Fai della Paganella in the northern region of Trentino, returning late last week.

On Sunday it was confirmed that a family who were visiting the resort from the Lombardy region had tested positive for the killer virus. 

Officials in Trentino confirmed that as of 6pm on Monday, the three tourists who had contracted COVID-19 had returned to Lombardy at their own request and there was no one in the region with symptoms of the virus.

On Tuesday evening, Health Minister Simon Harris added four regions in northern Italy – Lombardy, Veneto Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont – to the list of destinations Irish citizens are advised not to travel to due to the outbreak of the potentially lethal bug.

To date there have been 283 confirmed cases and seven deaths from coronavirus in the southern European country.

Concerns had been raised that staff and pupils from Confey College may have been exposed during their stay.

Anyone who has visited any affected region in the past 14 days and begins exhibiting any flu-like symptoms may have potentially contracted the illness.

A spokeswoman for the school declined to comment when contacted by Dublin Live on Tuesday afternoon. But a message sent to parents later that evening confirmed that the HSE had been notified that pupils had visited an area potentially affected by coronavirus.

While no child or staff member is currently showing any symptoms of the respiratory illness, school officials advised that everyone who was on the trip stay home today as a precautionary measure.

The message read: “Parents, regarding the Italian COVID-19 cases, our ski trip was to Italy during the mid-term we have notified all the relevant bodies. Attached is the HSE advice sheet  https://bit.ly/2SZD9Y6 . 

“All colleagues and students indicate that they are symptom free. We await further guidance from the HSE and as a precaution I have asked the group members to remain at home tomorrow. I will update as I have more information.”

Fears over the spread of the virus also led to Minister Harris recommending the cancellation of Ireland’s Six Nations clash with Italy at the Aviva Stadium on March 7.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “Today’s recommendations reflect the continuous assessment and adaptation capability of Ireland’s response to COVID-19, which will be ongoing as the situation unfolds. 

“I welcome the recommendation to cancel the Ireland v Italy rugby match, which was made in the interest of public safety.”

The Minister is set to meet with the IRFU today after they demanded the “specific reasoning” as to why it has been recommended that the fixture be postponed.

Meawhile, the World Health Organisation is calling for countries to “prepare for a potential pandemic” – a term used to describe an epidemic that spreads across multiple continents.

WHO has warned that the world is “not ready” to deal with the pandemic as more cases in South Korea were diagnosed and first suspected infection in Latin America recorded.

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The organisation’s Bruce Aylward, who headed an international expert mission to China where the outbreak began, praised its drastic containment measures but warned that other nations were “simply not ready” to contain the outbreak.

He added: “You have to be ready to manage this at a larger scale … and it has to be done fast.”


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