Taoiseach’s US visit in doubt due to coronavirus

Leo Varadkar was due to travel to New York on Tuesday to attend a meeting at the United Nations headquarters, but cancelled his plans last minute, allowing him to stay in Ireland to deal with the “evolving situation”

Taoiseach’s US visit in doubt due to coronavirus

The Taoiseach’s annual St Patrick’s Day ceremony in Washington may not go ahead due to Coronavirus.

Leo Varadkar was due to travel to New York on Tuesday to attend a meeting at the United Nations headquarters, but cancelled his plans last minute, allowing him to stay in Ireland to deal with the “evolving situation”, according to a spokeswoman.

Now his annual trip to Washington with President Trump also hangs in the balance as America grapples with the outbreak.

The annual St Patrick's reception on Thursday, hosted by the Irish Ambassador to the US, Daniel Mulhall, was cancelled because of the virus on Tuesday afternoon.

The Taoiseach is now due in to commence his US St Patrick’s Day trip in Washington on Wednesday, flying directly to the capital.

”He looks forward to attending a series of engagements in Washington on Wednesday evening and Thursday, including meeting with President Trump,” a spokesman added.

As of now, there are no change of plans.

However, the escalating situation in America may mean the Taoiseach’s engagements may be cut short.

Leo Varadkar is due to attend Vice President Mike Pence’s home on Thursday morning before travelling to the White House for the annual “Shamrock ceremony”, with the President and a number of political meetings.

American media have reported that Mr Trump has been considering asking foreign dignitaries not to attend the White House to limit the potential spread.

Mr Trump has already been in direct contact with one man who has tested positive for the virus, and reportedly shook his hand at an event.

The Taoiseach’s first engagement in Washington is expected to be the Ireland Funds dinner on Wednesday night.

The White House has briefed journalists early on Tuesday that the ceremony is to go ahead, but is subject to change, as is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s annual luncheon, however Mr Trump will not be in attendance for the lunch.

Meanwhile, Business Minister Heather Humphreys has cancelled her St. Patrick's Day trip to the US over coronavirus.

Ms Humphreys was due to travel to San Francisco and Sacramento for a series of engagements.

However, she has now cancelled, saying businesses here are facing an unprecedented situation, and she wants to be in Ireland to support them.

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