Laois school planning Italy trip says coronavirus 'very concerning'

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

90 suspected cases of Coronavirus tested in Ireland

90 suspected cases of Coronavirus tested in Ireland

A Laois secondary school where 100 students are going to northern Italy in a fortnight, is "watching the situation" for Coronavirus in Italy.

Transition Year students at St Mary's CBS in Portlaoise are preparing to fly out on their long awaited trip on Friday March 13, in two weeks.

The Principal is Maura Murphy.

"We are watching the situation. It is very concerning, we are keeping a very close eye on it. Even in three days the situation can change," she told the Leinster Express.

"We are going to Northern Italy but it is not one of the regions named by the Department. It is in Artesina near the French border. However we are landing in Milan airport," she said.

"The students have been saving and paying off their trip for the last year and a half," she said.

If it is cancelled the students may be at the loss of the cost.

"All the insurance is done through travel agent, but nobody gets compensation unless the Department of Health names the area as a no go zone," the principal said. 

She said a similar quandry was faced during the Ebola outbreak.

"A few years ago we were going on the Zambia trip during the ebola outbreak. We were going to a different area but with planes there was a risk. It came to holding a meeting with all the parents who made the decision to go," Ms Murphy said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs latest advice from Italy this Thursday February 27 is as follows:

"There has been an increase in the number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus in Italy. As a result, the Italian government has isolated the towns of Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano (which are in Lombardy) and Vo’ (which is in Veneto). These towns constitute the “red zone”. For the moment, therefore, we advise citizens not to travel to these towns.

In a wider area comprising Lombardy and Veneto, as well as Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont, certain public services, tourist attractions, bars, restaurants and/or cultural events etc. may be curtailed depending on decisions taken by local authorities. Please bear this in mind before travelling.

There are no flight restrictions between Ireland and Italy at present."

A Laois primary school is among the first to issue COVID-19 Coronavirus advice to parents. Read that story here.