A West Cork island community which welcomes tourists from around the world all year round, has asked people not to visit in a bid to protect the people living there.
The Bere Island Projects Group is urging people not to visit Bere Island until the end of March, and says that anyone who does need to come to the island should follow the precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
People are also being asked to limit travel in and out of the island, where this is possible.
John Walsh, Project Coordinator of the group said the decision was taken following an increase of visitors to the island after the schools were closed.
“A lot of people were showing up on Friday, and people started to get very worried,” he said.
A recent study found that Bere Island has one of the highest dependency ratios of the islands at 78.5 per cent.
“Around three in four of the residents are over 65 or vulnerable. Some people on the island are already self-isolating,” he said.
Mr Walsh said that the island community are used to facing unique problems, but were concerned what it would mean if a resident became ill, or a ferry operator was sick, and so were asking people to think twice before coming on the island.
In the meantime, Mr Walsh said that community radio was being utilised to keep people on the island informed of developments during the outbreak.
“The community school approached us and the principal, Pauline Hurley is doing a virtual assembly with students every morning,” he explained.
Teachers are also providing some instruction over the airwaves, and residents have also been able to hear from local healthcare professionals, local businesses and from former residents now living abroad.
He said the community bus is making by-weekly trips to collect essentials from shops and pharmacies for residents who are either self-isolating or limiting trips on and off the island.