Three schools in Co Clare are closed today after four people from the same family tested positive for the coronavirus.
The family had recently returned from northern Italy.
One primary school and a secondary school in Co Clare informed parents by text that they are to close for 14 days as a precaution after a person in each school tested positive for the virus.
Efforts are now underway to trace anyone the four people may have been in contact with.
Health Minister Simon Harris today said schools or businesses shouldn't close unless they are told to do so by health officials.
Health Minister Simon Harris says schools and businesses shouldn’t close over #coronavirus unless they’re told to do so.
3 schools in Co. Clare have closed and contact tracing is ongoing after four members of the same family tested positive for #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/XGaAdp8Aj9
— Stephen Murphy (@StephenMNews) March 5, 2020
He said: "There will not be a one size fits all solution for all schools as this situation unfolds.
"People shouldn't be taking unilateral actions - so schools and businesses need not shut.
"If you need to shut, you'll be advised to do so by the public health authorities."
He said more schools may have to act as the contact tracing process continues.
“There may be different scenarios for different schools and this may happen a number of times in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
“For some schools, it may mean a school closure; for other schools, it may mean that a class closes; for other schools, it may mean that an event within a school community is cancelled.
“So, it is really important that schools do not act unilaterally.”
Paul Reid, Director General of the HSE, refused to give further details about any school closures - but said "intense" contract tracing is ongoing, and that any schools that do need to close will have been advised to do so.
He also told The Pat Kenny Show: "I've been watching the commentary, particularly across social media.
You have a very significant element of the population saying 'just come out and give all of the facts - which schools are involved, which areas are involved'.
"The challenge for us is we have to get the right balance between creating the right public awareness across the entire country about what are the appropriate actions for everybody to take while we are in this containment phase."
Cases in Ireland
There have now been six confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Republic, as well as three in Northern Ireland.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Dr Ronan Glynn - deputy chief medical officer - said: "There is still no evidence of widespread or sustained community transmission in Ireland, as seen in some other EU countries.
"While we now have six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland, we continue our containment efforts, central to which is that the public know what to do in the event they have symptoms."
Italy remains the worst impacted country in Europe, with over 3,000 cases confirmed and more than 100 deaths.
More than 90,000 cases have now been confirmed worldwide, the vast majority of which have been in China where the outbreak originated.