Leading virologist urges Ireland to cancel St Patrick’s Day parade amid coronavirus concerns

Leading virologist urges Ireland to cancel St Patrick’s Day parade amid coronavirus concerns

A LEADING scientist has called for the cancellation of Dublin’s upcoming St Patrick’s Day parade after the second case of coronavirus was confirmed in Ireland.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Seán O’Rourke Show [via The Irish Times], Professor John Oxford, a virologist from Queen Mary University of London, said it would not be “the end of the world” if the event was cancelled or at the very least postponed.

"If I were in their shoes I would say ‘we must postpone it’, it’s not the end of the world for one year,” Professor Oxford said.

"After all the Chinese postponed the Chinese New Year, which is immense," Oxford said.

"They took it so seriously.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the government would not be advising the cancellation of the parade “at this stage” despite the confirmation of two cases of coronavirus in Ireland.

“But bear in mind that the St Patrick’s Day festival is two weeks away and a lot can happen between now and then," he said.

"There will be new advice published later today or tomorrow.”

Professor Oxford also expressed concern over the potential for the parade to attract tourists from all over the world to the Irish capital in a scenario which could serve to increase the spread of the virus.

(Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

The warning comes after Google opted to have staff work from home for a second consecutive day after one member of staff reported experiencing flu-like symptoms.

It's understood that the employee had displayed flu-like symptoms and the entire office was told to stay home as a precaution.

Despite the fears, there's no confirmation as of yet whether the worker's symptoms are related to Covid-19.

Google however insist that the decision to ask their 8,000 staff members to stay home was to "test" their ability to work remotely.

"We continue to take precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of our workforce, and as part of that effort we have asked our Dublin teams to work from home tomorrow," a Google spokesperson said.

"This is not the first Google office we have closed for a day or more - we have been doing this for some time now as we prioritise worker safety and manage a dynamic situation."