Ireland’s game against Italy is set to be called after the Irish government said it is their position that it ‘should not go ahead’ amid fears about the spread of the Coronavirus.

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Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris gave an interview with the national broadcaster that has in effect kiboshed the fixture on March 7th, saying it would pose a significant risk.

The match is likely to be postponed, evoking memories of the ‘Foot and Mouth’ outbreak and subsequent cancelling of games at the turn of the century.

“We’ve taken a decision in relation to the Ireland-Italy rugby game which was due to be held in Dublin on 7 March,” the minister told RTÉ News.

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WATCH: Two Pro14 fixtures cancelled over Coronavirus fears.

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“The very clear view of the Public Health Emergency team is that this game should not go ahead, that it would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an affected region.

“My department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this.

“I know it will come as a great disappointment to many but it is important we make decisions in relation to public health above and beyond all other considerations.”

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The England match in Rome the following week is also now under threat.

Thousands of England fans have bought flights, match tickets and made hotel bookings for the March 14 trip to Rome and a Six Nations spokesperson told RugbyPass on Tuesday: “The Six Nations is monitoring this situation very closely and is in regular contact with the Italian federation and all other unions and federations as well as the relevant local authorities and health organisations.”

The PRO14 has already been affected by the restrictions imposed to try and control the coronavirus outbreak with postponements affecting Ospreys;’ match with Zebre in Parma and Ulster’s game against Benetton in Treviso, while the Italian federation has also suspended its normal weekend programme of domestic fixtures.

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