Dublin cancels St Patrick's Day parade amidst coronavirus fears

Dublin's St Patrick's Day Parade has been cancelled amidst coronavirus fears (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day parade has been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.

The annual celebration can see up to 500,000 revellers filling the streets of the Irish capital.

The decision was taken at a cabinet sub-committee on Monday afternoon following advice of public health officials. 

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris has said the coronavirus situation is “very serious”.

He said it was going to require not just a “whole of government approach, but a whole of society approach”.

Dublin's 2019 St Patrick's Day parade (Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mr Harris told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that there was a moderate-to-high risk that Ireland would follow a pattern seen in other EU countries with regard to the Covid-19 outbreak such as Italy, France and Germany.

He said he wanted people to know that every decision taken would not be political, saying it would be taken on public health advice.

He added that the best possible way of dealing with the virus was to slow its spread by practising good hygiene, and encouraging people to work from home.

Former Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said: “I am pleased to say the St Patrick’s Day Parade is cancelled. People’s health comes first. Thank you”.

Visit Dublin’s official Twitter page posted a statement saying: “Due to the #CoronavirusOutbreak, many upcoming high profile events in #Dublin have been cancelled. This includes the @stpatricksfest parade.”

The city council said public welfare was paramount and cancellation was the correct decision.

More than 500,000 people were expected to turn out for the annual St Patricks Day parade through the city centre of Dublin on March 17 (Paul Faith/ AFP)

Earlier on Monday, Cork moved to cancel its parade, the second largest in the country attracting up to 50,000 people. Sligo, in the north of the Republic, as well as various smaller towns, had already called off their festivities. 

Parades are held across Ireland on March 17th every year in celebration of the country’s patron saint, St Patrick.

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On Monday, two more cases were confirmed in the Republic of Ireland, bringing the total number there to 21. One of the patients has an underlying condition and is seriously ill. Five people were diagnosed with coronavirus in Northern Ireland at the weekend, bringing the number of cases there to 12.

On Monday afternoon Matt Hancock confirmed that a fourth person had died in the UK after contracting coronavirus. The health secretary told MPs there are now “four confirmed deaths” connected to the outbreak, as he made a statement on the government’s measures to tackle the virus.

In a statement, England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said: “I am very sorry to report that a fourth patient in England who tested positive for Covid-19 has sadly died. I offer my sincere condolences to their family and friends and ask that their privacy is respected.”

According to the World Health Organisation the most commonly reported symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, and most patients (80%) experienced mild illness. Approximately 14% experience severe disease and up to 6% can be critically ill.

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