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Michelle O'Neill calls for the immediate closure of schools and universities

13 March, 2020 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill has said decisive and co-ordinated action is required to deal with coronavirus and called for the immediate closure of schools and universities. 

Speaking at Stormont, Michelle O'Neill said: 

"This week, the World Health Organisation has made it clear we are faced with a global heath pandemic. 

"The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have strongly advised taking early, decisive, rapid, co-ordinated action. 

"They have said implementation of closures is likely to be more effective in slowing the spread of the virus than a delayed implementation and we have been clear we are keeping the situation under daily review. 

"Today, many European countries have taken robust action, particularly on large gatherings, including schools, colleges and universities. 

"In the South, in Scotland and across Europe, outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people and indoor gatherings of more than 100 people have been cancelled. 

"I have spoken to educationalists, sporting organisation and churches who have all taken precautionary action in the interest of people's health. 

"People are rightly concerned about the impacts on their families and their children and as a parent, I share those concerns and I have been contacted by many parents who did not send their children to school this morning. 

"To protect the public, schools and colleges should now be closed. 

"There has been contradictory medical evidence and in that context my view is that we should err on the side of caution. 

"Working with our Executive colleagues, it is our duty to make decisions in the interest of everyone based on all available advice. 

"It's vital that we have a joined-up approach across the island and I will be at the North South Ministerial Council tomorrow to deal with this pandemic."

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