The Ireland v Italy men’s and women’s Six Nations games scheduled for Dublin next weekend have been postponed because of the coronavirus.
Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said on Tuesday the men’s game should be postponed and met with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) on Wednesday.
The women’s game scheduled for the following day as well as the under-20 game on 6 March have also been postponed.
Protect public health
“At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the government’s need to protect public health in relation to the coronavirus”, the Irish Rugby Football Union said in a statement.
“We were then advised, formally, that the National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of public health.”
“The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.”
IRFU added: “We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.”
Eleven towns in northern Italy are in lockdown after an outbreak.
The news comes after American oil firm Chevron advised its 300-strong work force to work remotely after an employee reported flu symptoms on their return from a country infected by the deadly bug.
A company spokesperson said: “Chevron continues to monitor the situation very closely, utilizing the guidance of international and local health authorities.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our employees and we are taking precautionary measures to reduce their risk of exposure.”
A 60-year-old Frenchman also died of coronavirus in a Paris hospital, the second virus-related death in France.