DUBLIN, Ireland – St. Patrick’s Day is normally associated with large crowds of green, but celebrations may be a bit muted this year due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Cities are beginning to cancel their St. Paddy’s Day parades in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
The Ireland government announced Monday that it is canceling all of its parades, including the Dublin parade, the largest in the country.
“Due to the unique nature and scale of the St Patrick’s Day festivities, in terms of size, the mass gathering of local and international travelers, and the continued progression of community transmission in some European countries, along with the emergence of a small number of cases of local transmission in Ireland, the Government has decided that St Patrick’s Day parades, including the Dublin parade, will not proceed,” wrote the government in a statement.
The country’s minister for health, Simon Harris, told RTÉ that there is a moderate-to-high risk that Ireland will follow a pattern seen in other European countries with regard to virus, like Italy, France and Germany, which have seen thousands of cases of COVID-19.
As of Monday, there have been 21 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ireland.
Parades could be dangerous events to attend, because COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
People who are at high risk of contracting the disease, older adults and those with medical conditions, are specifically advised to avoid crowds as much as possible, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Those include:
· Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
· Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
· Staying home when you are sick
· Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash
· Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
· Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; or if soap and water isn’t readily available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol