Tánaiste Simon Coveney has confirmed a number of Irish citizens have requested to leave Wuhan in China, where the deadly coronavirus is believed to have originated.
These people are likely to be quarantined in France for up to a fortnight, he said.
Mr Coveney said his officials have been “highly active” in liaising with Irish citizens in China and the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens against all non-essential travel to China.
Speaking at a Fine Gael event in Dublin, Mr Coveney said there is a “small number of Irish citizens who are in the province that’s affected in China”.
“We will make contact with them through our embassy. Some are happy to stay and a very small number want to leave. We’re putting arrangements in place, working with EU partners to facilitate that,” Mr Coveney said.
“There is no evidence to suggest that any Irish citizen has contracted the virus.”
When asked to clarify the numbers of people involved, the Tánaiste said it was less than 10. He said his officials are liaising with other EU countries who are sending planes into China to bring people home and confirmed that the Irish affected are likely to be subject to supervision in France.
Irish citizens had initially been advised against visiting just Wuhan, a city of 11m people, where the disease is reported to have emerged in December.
The advice was then extended to include the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located. Now, the department is advising against all non-essential travel to the whole of China. The Department of Foreign Affairs noted that travel within the province of Hubei “has become tightly controlled and all tourists facilities have been closed”.
It added: “Under these circumstances, travellers are advised against visiting the province of Hubei.”
It said the situation “remains very fluid” and that “it is likely increasing containment measures will be deployed by the Chinese government”.