ALL St. Patrick's Day parades cancelled following cabinet meeting
The decision was taken following a special Covid-19 cabinet meeting on Monday.
All planned parades to celebrate St. Patrick's Day have been officially called off following an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday afternoon.
Prior to the meeting, parades around the country, including Sligo, Cork and Dublin, announced cancellations due to concerns and continued uncertainty over the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, following the example set by Youghal on Friday.
Caretaker Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed shortly after 5pm on Monday that all nationwide St. Patrick's Day parades have been called off in response to a situation he referred to as "unprecedented in modern times".
Varadkar also noted that "life must go on", though he urged the general public to scale back on social gatherings where possible.
Party leaders will now meet twice a week regarding coronavirus containment action.
Following the conclusion of the meeting, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald hailed a "responsible call" regarding the cancellation of St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
"We must act together to protect our families and communities," McDonald stated on Twitter.
Meeting of party leaders just concluded. We will meet twice weekly to consider Coronavirus containment plans. The responsible call on St Patrick's day has been made. We must act together to protect our families and communities #coronavirus
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) March 9, 2020
Following the "informative" assembly, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin called on the public to do its part regarding the epidemic.
"This virus is a very serious issue for the whole country and everyone has their part to play in delaying its spread and helping to protect our communities," Martin said, before thanking Health Service Executive (HSE) staff for their continued efforts.
Informative meeting this afternoon with other party leaders and the Chief Medical Officer regarding #coronavirus #COVID19 This virus is a very serious issue for the whole country and everyone has their part to play in delaying its spread and helping to protect our communities.
— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) March 9, 2020
Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland on Monday, acting Minister for Health Simon Harris noted that there is a moderate to high risk of the outbreak in Ireland following a similar pattern to European countries such as Italy, which currently has over 7,300 confirmed cases just weeks after the first emergence was recorded.
Harris also reinforced the severity of Covid-19 and warned that any decisions made will be made on public health grounds rather than political ones.
“Ireland is at an early stage of progression here compared to other European countries,” he said.
“There is a moderate to high risk we will follow a pattern seen in other EU countries and that's what we're preparing for and what we're working around the clock for."
The Taoiseach has cut his planned St. Patrick's Day trip to America short in order to address the coronavirus situation at home.
Varadkar will travel to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, having initially been scheduled to fly out to New York - where a state of emergency has been declared - on Tuesday.
As of Sunday evening, there are 21 confirmed instances of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland and 12 in Northern Ireland, with over 111,000 cases recorded worldwide.
Speaking on Monday, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus underlined that the threat of coronavirus as a pandemic is "very real" while simultaneously sounding a note of encouragement.
"Now that the coronavirus has a foothold in so many countries, the threat of a pandemic has become very real," Ghebreyesus said.
"But it would be the first pandemic in history that could be controlled. The bottom line is - we are not at the mercy of this virus."
The WHO Director-General highlighted the importance of "early, decisive action", adding that "most" people who are infected are expected to recover.
"The great advantage we have is that the decisions we all make - as governments, businesses, communities, families and individuals - can influence the trajectory of this epidemic.
"We need to remember that with decisive, early action we can slow down the coronavirus and prevent infections. Among those who are infected, most will recover. Of the 80,000 reported COVID-19 cases in China, more than 70% have recovered and been discharged."
Let hope be the antidote to fear.
Let solidarity be the antidote to blame.
Let our shared humanity be the antidote to our shared threat #COVID19
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) March 9, 2020