A group of students and teachers from Tullamore College are staying away from school this week after a trip to Italy last week.
They returned to Ireland on Sunday, March 8. It's understood they are voluntarily partaking in 'social distancing' which involves them staying in their own homes.
They have been urged to contact the HSE if they present with any symptoms. This period will last for two weeks.
Tullamore College has been contacted on numerous occasions by the Offaly Express for comment. They had not made a statement as of Tuesday evening, March 10.
A parent of one of the students told the Offaly Express on Tuesday evening that parents and the school acted on the best advice of the HSE and Department of Health before the trip went ahead. The area they travelled to in Italy was not directly by Covid-19 transmission at the time. They said they are now acting responsibly by staying away from school and work. This is not expressly required under current guidelines from the HSE.
The HSE says where a person has returned from one of the countries where Covid-19 is circulating and they are feeling well,
they should have already visited the HSE website and made contact with the HSE helpline by phone for advice.
"If they remain well, no specific measures are needed. They will be advised to watch out for any symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following their return. The symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, temperature and, sometimes breathing difficulties or shortness of breath," the HSE says.
"If they develop any symptoms within 14 days of returning from areas with presumed community transmission of COVID-19, the person should isolate themselves and then contact their GP/doctor straight away by phone for advice, informing the GP/doctor of their recent travel history.
"This will be explained to them by HSE staff. The GP/doctor will advise on the next steps to take, including organising testing
for COVID-19 if necessary."
Since the return of the Tullamore College group, Italy has been placed into a complete lockdown, effectively keeping 60 million people in quarantine.
British Airways have suspended all flights to and from Italy with a similar Ryanair suspension coming into effect this Friday.
Over 9,000 cases have been confirmed in Italy with the biggest concentration in the north of the country. 34 cases have been confirmed in Ireland.
Elsewhere, a staff member from Walsh Island National School has also agreed to take "a period of leave" from work, the school has confirmed.
Although the school would not confirm, it's understood the staff member is linked to an individual from Tullamore College.
Principal Colette Hyland said the period of leave for the staff member was being taken as an "abundant precaution."
"The staff member referenced has agreed, with the principal, to take some leave," Ms Hyland said. It was not confirmed if the staff member is a teacher at the school.
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