IRISH citizens looking to leave Wuhan in China will be temporarily quarantined in France amid concerns that the coronavirus could make its way to Ireland.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that "a small number" of Irish citizens in the province where the outbreak of the virus is believed to have started, want to get out of the country, and he confirmed that arrangements were in place to bring them home.
However, in order to contain any potential spread of the virus, those returning to Ireland will be quarantined for up to two weeks in France, to undergo screening.
"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 pressed on the number of people believed to be returning to Ireland, Coveney said it was less than ten.
He added that his officials were leasing with other European countries who are sending planes into China to bring citizens home, before suggesting that the most likely quarantine location would be France.
"In all likelihood - obviously it’s not a certainty yet - but they will be flying in sometime to France and they will be required to go through a process when they arrive to make sure they don’t pose a danger of contagion," Coveney said.
"But as I say, I don’t want to raise alarm here.
"There is no suggestion that any Irish citizen has contracted the virus, but of course we are acting in a precautionary mode as we always do with Irish citizens.
"That’s likely to happen in the next couple of days.
"I don’t wish to go into much detail about that but just to say as you would expect, our consular services have been very helpful."