A secondary school in the east of the country is to close for 14 days following the first case of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland.

The Department of Health said that staff and pupils at the school are being treated as close contacts of the first case that was detected here yesterday.

A male student has the virus and he is being treated in a Dublin hospital with infection-control measures.

He had returned from northern Italy, after being in an at-risk area.

The Department of Health said it would not name the school to protect the individual, the family and their community.

The Department said all pupils and teachers are being asked to restrict their movements until the end of the incubation period.

And it said public health doctors will actively follow-up with all students and teachers on a daily basis over the next fortnight.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said: "Contact tracing has assessed that close contacts of this patient includes pupils and teachers of a secondary school.

"Public health doctors are in direct contact with pupils, their parents and the staff involved.

"Patient confidentiality in this case, and in all cases, should be respected. The Department of Health will provide updated information as necessary."

The Department of Education said it is available to assist the school in any way necessary and that it is in regular contact with the Department of Health.

It said it will continue to communicate with all schools on the issue.

Dr Holohan told a press briefing this afternoon that a contact tracing process was under way and that further information would be provided by text message over the coming days.

Dr Holohan said there would be another briefing for parents and teachers tomorrow.

He conceded that while information about the school may become public via social media, that information would not be disclosed by the Department of Health.

He said there was "nothing to hide, but something to protect".

In information issued to parents tonight, the students are being urged to limit their social movements, avoid crowded settings and any large events, including sporting events.

While not identifying the school, Dr John Cuddihy, Director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said it was a "large school".

Earlier, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health said the risk of contracting coronavirus for individuals in Ireland remains low despite confirmation of a case of Covid-19 here.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, Dr Ronan Glynn said people should not panic but should implement proper hygiene practices, in particular hand-washing.

He said Ireland's risk status for the virus has not changed and is still one of containment.

Dr Glynn said his department has to protect the confidentiality of the individual patient and could only confirm the person diagnosed is a man, resides in the east of the country, and has the virus as a result of travel to an affected area in northern Italy.

In this case the person self-identified and all normal testing procedures were followed.

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Dr Glynn said health authorities have been open and transparent about the developing situation internationally and our preparedness here.

He said with no evidence of community transmission, the risk of transmission is low.

Key to containment in the days ahead remains the co-operation of people who should come forward if they have symptoms, he said.

Anyone who has had contact with a confirmed case or has come from a specific affected region and has symptoms, is urged to self-isolate and contact the HSE.

At the moment public health teams are looking at providing risk assessments for event planning, including the St Patrick's Day festivities.

This is expected in the coming days.

The Department of Health has stressed the importance of people reporting symptoms to the appropriate health services in order to prevent Covid-19 from further spreading.

The most up-to-date figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control put the number of Covid-19 cases at 87,024.

There have been 2,979 deaths reported. Europe has now recorded 1,520 cases.