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Cancel St. Patrick’s celebrations, says UK-based virologists

People in Temple Bar this afternoon on Saint Patricks Day in Dublin , Ireland.

A UK-based virologist has told RTE that he thinks St. Patrick’s celebrations should be cancelled in Ireland as a necessary caution to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He says events attended by large numbers of people, including some from abroad, are a major risk and Ireland could find themselves in the same position as Italy who took no action until it was too late.

Professor John Oxford, a virologist, told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke that with infection you cannot sit around and take chances while keeping your fingers crossed.

He said Covid-19 “needs to be taken a bit more seriously” in Ireland despite there only being one case so far.

He said it is “pretty infectious, it’s not like measles and it’s not quite as infectious as flu but it does move quietly, that’s the difference with this virus”.

In relation to large gatherings, like St Patrick’s Day parades, he said these events are all around the country with a lot of visitors coming into these areas from abroad.

He said that he would postpone the events if he was making such decisions in Ireland.

“It’s not the end of the world for one year.”

The professor pointed to the Chinese postponement of the Chinese New Year celebrations because of the virus. “They took it so seriously,” he said.

He added that a “big outbreak” could be prevented by cancelling St Patrick’s Day events.

He cited Italy as an example who he said “sat there for weeks thinking they didn’t have a case, suddenly there was an explosion. They’re the new epicentre now”.

The National Public Health Emergency Team will meet to discuss a range of new measures to manage the risk posed by Covid-19.

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It is due to issue advice on risk assessments for mass gatherings.




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