Ireland cancels St. Patrick's Day festivities over coronavirus concerns

There have been 19 cases of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, in the Republic of Ireland.
Image: Crowds watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, on March 17, 2019.
Crowds watch the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin, Ireland, on March 17, 2019.Paul Faith / AFP via Getty Images file

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By Doha Madani

St. Patrick's Day festivities in the Republic of Ireland have been canceled amid concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus.

The cancellations have come at the advice of health officials to help slow the spread of the virus, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Monday. There have been 19 cases of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, in the Republic of Ireland.

The canceled events include the national St. Patrick's Festival parade in Dublin on March 17.

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"But I think it's really important to get across a very important fact: The vast majority of people who get COVID-19 in the next couple of weeks or couple of months will not do so because they attend a mass gathering. They will most likely pick it up in their own home from their family or from interactions with friends and others," Varadkar said.

In the U.S., New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Monday that there were no plans to cancel the city's St. Patrick's Day Parade, which attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.

However, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said that while the risk remains low, his city's festivities have been canceled out of an abundance of caution.

"Our top priority is preventing any new cases, to the best of our ability, and we are paying close attention to guidance from public health officials," Walsh said.

Anxiety surrounding the coronavirus led world stocks to tumble as investors braced for the economic fallout of the epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that those most at risk for complications from contracting the disease are over age 80, especially those with underlying health problems.

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Five people have died in the United Kingdom out of 277 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday morning.

Of the more than 80,000 confirmed cases in China, where the virus outbreak originated, 70 percent of patients have recovered.