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Ireland is in the containment phase, but Covid-19 is now beginning to make its presence felt

Maeve Sheehan


As Ireland confirms the first case of coronavirus here, thousands could die in a worst-case scenario, writes Maeve Sheehan

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Alert: A flight crew from Cathay Pacific Airways, wearing protective masks, pass through the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Alert: A flight crew from Cathay Pacific Airways, wearing protective masks, pass through the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Getty Images

Alert: A flight crew from Cathay Pacific Airways, wearing protective masks, pass through the international terminal at Los Angeles International Airport, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

When a group of Waterford students left for a skiing trip on Saturday, February 15, they were headed for a country on the verge of a viral epidemic. The Covid-19 coronavirus had just reached Italy. The World Health Organisation recorded three new cases on the same day that 40 pupils and four teachers from St Paul's CBS boarded an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Milan. They were on their way to Folgaria, a ski resort in the Trentino region. At Milan, the coronavirus had already made its presence felt. "We were getting our temperature taken by doctors to make sure we didn't have any fever or any sign of coronavirus," said one student on the trip.

Seven days later, Italy was top of the coronavirus table in Europe and St Paul's CBS were back at Milan airport for the journey home. Three cases of infection in Italy had become 59 and two people were dead. Luckily for St Paul's CBS, their holiday destination was outside the coronavirus risk zone and they were not checked for symptoms on the journey home.

As it turns out, Northern Italy is a popular destination with Irish schools for mid-term skiing trips and students from another school in Northern Ireland were on the same plane as St Paul's CBS.


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