Fears coronavirus could hit St Patrick's Day celebrations across Ireland as Dublin school closes
OFFICIALS in Dublin and Belfast are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus amid fears the annual St Patrick's Day parades will have to be cancelled.
It comes as a secondary school in Dublin is set to close for 14 days following the first case of coronavirus in the Republic on Saturday.
Health officials last night that staff and pupils, who are being treated as close contacts of the case, are being asked to restrict their movements as a precautionary measure.
Earlier the Republic's deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said officials were still working on advice about large public events with details to be made public in the coming days.
Asked about the possible St Patrick's parade cancellation, he said: "Clearly there will be events of major or national significance that will require input from public health doctors and medical expertise".
The national holiday, which attracts hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets, will be held in two weeks.
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A spokesman for Belfast City Council said it has no plans to cancel its celebrations but added that officials are continuing to monitor the rapidly-changing situation and would "act in accordance with any advice received."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that almost half of people tested for the coronavirus in the north - where Ireland's first case was identified last week - have used a 'drive-through' facility at Antrim Area Hospital.
A total of 40 people have been tested at the facility. Plans are also in place for new testing 'pods' at hospitals in Belfast, Dundonald and Antrim.