US public health officials are warning that it is inevitable that the COVID-19 coronavirus will become a pandemic.
The World Health Organisation has stopped short of using the label – but warned countries to prepare for the possibility it will become one.
It has also expressed concern that countries outside of China are “simply not ready” to respond if it does.
The US Centres for Disease Control for disease control has said it is “not a question of if this will happen anymore but rather a question of when it will happen.”
Meanwhile, the Health Minister will meet the IRFU this morning to discuss his call for Ireland’s Six Nations match against Italy to be cancelled.
Simon Harris last night recommended that the match on March 7th be called off due fears over the coronavirus.
The number of confirmed cases in Italy has now risen to 322 with 11 deaths. The majority of the cases are in the north of the country.
Anyone returning to Ireland from the area is advised to self-isolate if displaying any symptoms.
Fianna Fáil and the Green Party will start substantial policy talks today as efforts continue to form a government.
Fine Gael's parliamentary party will meet to discuss its options after Leo Varadkar's meeting with Micheál Martin yesterday.
While rural Independents, including Mattie McGrath and the Healy Rae brothers, will also meet Fianna Fáil.
Last night Sinn Féin held its second public rally in Dublin with more than 500 people attending the packed out Liberty Hall.
The Office of Public Works is facing criticism for failing to take stronger action to prevent flooding.
Hundreds of acres of farmland are flooded across the country, while some homes and businesses are also affected. Areas in the midlands and southwest are worst affected.
A Status Yellow snow and ice warning is due to remain in place around the country until 9am this morning.
Forecasters are warning that conditions may worsen again before the weekend.
The singer Duffy has said she was drugged and raped after being held captive by an attacker.
In a post on her verified Instagram account, the Welsh performer added that her “recovery took time.”
It is not clear where or when the ordeal took place.
The singer's best-known singles include Warwick Avenue, Mercy and Stepping Stone.