Ireland vs Italy in Six Nations ‘should not go ahead’, says Irish health minister Simon Harris

Ireland’s Six Nations game against Italy in Dublin next month should not go ahead due to coronavirus fears, says the country’s minister for health Simon Harris.

Harris earlier voiced worries over the Italy team and supporters travelling to Ireland for the fixture at the Aviva Stadium on March 7, due to the spread of coronavirus across parts of northern Italy and the south.

Eleven people have died in Italy due to the virus, while the number of confirmed cases in the country has risen to 322.

Speaking to RTE News, Harris said it was the “very clear view” of the National Public Health Emergency Team that the round-four meeting should not go ahead on the grounds of public safety.

“We have taken a decision in relation to the Ireland-Italy rugby game which was due to be held in Dublin on March 7,” he said.

“The very clear view of the Public Health Emergency team is that this game should not go ahead, that it would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an affected region.

“My department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this.

“I know it will come as a great disappointment to many but it is important we make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”

Six Nations organisers said the spread of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak is being monitored “very closely”, with concerns also over the country’s women’s and U20s fixtures.

Ireland’s women’s match against Italy is scheduled on March 8 at Donnybrook, a day after the men’s sides meet in Dublin.

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