IT'S only a matter of time before the coronavirus reaches Ireland, according to the former head of the Irish Medical Organisation.
Dr Martin Daly, who fronted the medical trade union for a number of years, insists that Ireland should be bracing for confirmed cases in the near future, given the "probability" that the disease will continue to spread to countries all over the world.
"I think on the balance of probability, if this has spread to 26 countries the likelihood in this international age of travel and interconnectivity that we will get cases," said Dr Daly.
"Now, it is difficult, I don't think anyone can predict when this will happen but I don't think we should be operating on the basis that it won't happen."
This follows the news that two Irish citizens are confirmed to have tested positive for the virus while aboard that quarantined cruise ship Princess Diamond, which is currently moored off the coast of Japan.
It's understood that a number of other Irish citizens are also on board a quarantined ship in Cambodia, two of which are already back in the country.
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that the Irish Government were "dealing with each individual case"..."to make sure they're safe, and if they're in quarantine, to make sure those conditions are safe."
Over 70,000 people worldwide are thought to have contracted the virus since the outbreak in December last year.
Nearly 2,000 people are believed to have died.