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Tue 25 Feb 2020 | 10:44

Coronavirus puts Six Nations matches in doubt

Coronavirus puts Six Nations matches in doubt
Tue 25 Feb 2020 | 10:44
Coronavirus puts Six Nations matches in doubt
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ireland’s Six Nations rugby match with Italy in Dublin next month should be cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic, the health minister said Tuesday.

The National Public Health Emergency Team, convened to help coordinate Ireland’s response to the outbreak, advised that the upcoming match on March 7 “not to go ahead on public health grounds” as Italy became the latest country to be badly hit by the virus.

“The cancellation of mass gatherings in this phase is justified in exceptional circumstances,” said Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer.

“Today’s recommendation to cancel the Ireland v Italy rugby match is based on the rapidly evolving nature of the outbreak in northern Italy, and the consequent risk of importation of cases into Ireland were the match to go ahead,” he added.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris said he welcomed the recommendation.

“Today’s recommendations reflect the continuous assessment and adaptation capability of Ireland’s response… which will be ongoing as the situation unfolds,” he said.

Health chiefs also called for an “increase in the level of public awareness campaigns at ports, airports, schools and public offices, to commence immediately”.

Ireland are currently tied second in the championship having lost to England on Sunday, with France, who have already played Italy, leading the pack.

Ireland’s match with Italy, who are bottom, is set to be the penultimate fixture for both teams, while England’s trip to Rome on March 14 has also been thrown into doubt.

The cancellation of the games would throw the competition into turmoil, although the 2001 competition was similarly affected by a foot-and-mouth outbreak in Britain, with the fixtures being completed months later.

The PRO14 has already been affected by the restrictions imposed to try and control the coronavirus outbreak with postponements affecting Ospreys;’ match with Zebre in Parma and Ulster’s game against Benetton in Treviso, while the Italian federation has also suspended its normal weekend programme of domestic fixtures.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Super Rugby matches involving the Tokyo-based Sunwolves are also at risk of cancellation due to outbreak of the coronavirus in Japan.

Related Articles:

Coronavirus threatens Super Rugby
Two Pro14 games postponed

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Coronavirus Puts Six Nations Matches In Doubt - England | Rugby365