“They’re testing for the disease in the UK, it has turned up in Europe in France and Germany, and there has been a dozen or so cases in the US," he said.
“It’s highly likely we will see a case here in Ireland in the next week or so and that means we must be vigilant."
“People need to watch out for their own care, that of their families and those around them.
“In a nutshell, people mustn’t just rush off to the nearest hospital or emergency department if they feel unwell because most of the time, their illnesses are caused by the one of the numerous other viruses, like influenza, circulating at the moment.
"It’s highly unlikely, unless they have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone who has, that they have contracted this coronavirus.
“In the meantime, I would advise people who are unwell not to go to the crowded emergency department - self care in this situation is vital. Avoid crowded workplaces and GP surgeries, get plenty of rest and fluid, and check out the HSE website undertheweather.com, and if necessary get advice over the phone from your GP practice.
“Wash your hands constantly with hot water and soap and keep alcohol gel with you to use often throughout the day.”
Dr Luke explained that the majority of people might only experience a mild illness but that the elderly, ill and those undergoing cancer treatment are at risk.
He said that hospitals will manage in the case of an outbreak as staff are prepared for such events.