AN IRISH doctor has warned that hospitals throughout the nation will be unable to cope with any potential coronavirus outbreak.
Fears are growing that a number of cases of the disease will be confirmed in the country in the coming weeks, and intensive care consultant Dr Tom Ryan insists Irish hospitals don't have enough space to deal with it.
"Our current ICU bed stock is quite dated and there’s very poor isolation facilities in them and the isolation facilities that are there are occupied by patients who already have antibiotic-resistant infections, so even a small number of cases would present a major challenge," said Dr Ryan while speaking to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ radio.
He added that there is no "leeway" to deal with any more critical patients as even a small number of cases would put huge pressure on the Irish health system.
Dr Ryan also claimed that - even without a potential coronavirus outbreak - hospital bed numbers in Ireland need to be doubled.
Prior to the international outbreak, Ireland was experiencing severe hospital overcrowding, with a shortage of staff, beds and ambulances a major issue for the thousands of patients who need to use the facilities.
Fears of coronavirus spreading to Ireland comes following the deaths of seven people in Italy and warnings from the government not to visit certain parts of the country.
5,000 Italy fans are expected to travel to Dublin in under two weeks for the Six Nations clash with Ireland, and as a result, the fixture could now be in jeopardy.
Meanwhile a number of schools who have recently visited Italy on skiing trips have told their students to stay home.
As of last night, there have been over 79,000 coronavirus cases worldwide with more than 2,600 deaths.