Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Picture: REUTERS/JULIEN WARNARD
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. Picture: REUTERS/JULIEN WARNARD

Dublin — Irish authorities will close schools, colleges and childcare centres, and limit indoor and outdoor gatherings in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

The closures will run until March 29, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in Washington on Thursday. Indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people or outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people should be canceled, he said.

The coronavirus “will continue to spread, but it can be slowed”, he said.

Cultural institutions and tourist attractions will also close, while people should work from home if they can do so, he said. Public transport will remain operating, and stores and cafés will also stay open.

This week, the government canceled the nation’s annual St Patrick’s Day celebrations, as concern around the coronavirus outbreak escalated.

“We are asking people to stay apart,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said, adding that “thousands” of lives can be saved by the right measures.

There have been 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland so far, with one death. Clusters have emerged, and some patients are in intensive care, authorities said.

Irish shares fell in line with the rest of Europe, with the ISEQ overall index fell 6.7% to at 12.10pm in Dublin.