A proposal to close schools for the rest of January, due to rising Covid-19 infections, will be considered later this afternoon by the Government’s Cabinet sub-committee on coronavirus. 
The three Coalition leaders and at least five ministers will participate in today’s deliberations.
However, a final decision will only be taken at a full Cabinet meeting tomorrow. 
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will be joined at today’s meeting by the Ministers for Finance, Public Expenditure, Health, Justice and Education. 
Up for consideration will be a proposal, first revealed by RTÉ News, to close schools until the end of the month, despite the coalition’s long-held objective of keeping them open.
With record numbers of Covid-19 cases in recent days, it appears a crucial intervention took place yesterday when the Taoiseach spoke on the phone with the Chief Medical Officer.
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Dr Tony Holohan later told a news conference of his growing concern about the implications for the ongoing provision of education, as the level of Covid-19 detected in school-goers is increasing at what he termed as “a very, very fast rate”.
Opposition parties want to know what happens if the Cabinet decides, as they advocate, to close schools. 
Bríd Smith of People Before Profit said full supports need to be put in place for online learning, adding schools were not the safe-havens that the government had been claiming.
Yesterday, the Department of Health was notified of an additional 6,110 confirmed cases of Covid-19, while six further deaths have been recorded.
Figures show that the number of patients in intensive care units with Covid-19 has increased to 73, a rise of three patients overnight.
There are 744 confirmed cases in hospitals around with country, with the largest number being cared for at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.
Hospitals have begun cancelling planned non urgent operations, outpatient clinics and other services. to prepare for a potential surge of new cases.
Patients will be notified if their appointment is being postponed.
The National Public Health Emergency Team has warned that if people do not act to radically reduce transmission and incidence, there could be up to 2,500 cases in hospital and 400 patients in ICU by mid January.
Additional reporting: Fergal Bowers

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