The coronavirus - Covid-19 - has been made a 'notifiable disease', meaning medical professionals who come across a case must pass on the patient's identity to the HSE.
Health Minister Simon Harris signed the necessary regulations earlier today.
The HSE's Sarah Doyle said the designation allows them to control the spread of infection.
She said: "Let's say if someone has tuberculosis - we must be informed in public health so that we can take the necessary measures to prevent the spread of that infection.
"Things like tuberculosis, influenza, measles... all of those are notifiable infections.
"Now, this new novel coronavirus will also be a notifiable infection."
Officials say there have been 75 suspected cases of coronavirus in Ireland to date, but none have been confirmed.
Minister Harris said Ireland is "well-positioned" to detect and respond if any cases of the coronavirus here.
He said: "This measure, to include Covid-19 on the list of notifiable diseases, is common practice when dealing with a newly emerging infectious disease.
"This was also done for the SARS epidemic in 2002."
Earlier this week, it was confirmed that two Irish citizens are being treated in a hospital in Japan after testing positive for the coronavirus.
They were among six Irish citizens on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked off Yokahama, Japan in quarantine after cases of the virus were detected.
More than 600 people who were on board the ship have since tested positive.
Meanwhile, almost 75,000 cases have been detected in mainland China - mostly in Hubei province, where the outbreak originated.
Over 2,000 people have died after contracting the virus.