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11 March, 2020

Ireland cancelled all St. Patrick's Day parades due to take place across the country next week over the risk of a further spread of coronavirus as the government set aside 3 billion euros to tackle the infection.

Ireland has so far reported 34 cases after ten more were identified on Tuesday, among over 110,000 globally. Ireland's chief medical officer said that while the country was still containing the virus, it would eventually move into the stage of delaying its transmission and mitigating the impact.

The March 17 public holiday is celebrated with parades in towns and villages. The flagship gathering in Dublin that draws some 500,000 revellers from around the world each year kicks off the capital's tourism season.

"It's possible that we are facing events that are unprecedented in modern times," Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a news conference on Monday.

A package that could cost up to 2.4 billion euros was agreed to increase sick pay to enable all workers to self-isolate if necessary, while Ireland's already stretched health department will be given an additional 435 million euros this year.

An initial package for business will include 200 million euros in liquidity support for affected firms, funding that Varadkar said was set aside for a "no deal Brexit" last year but would now be re-purposed.

Ireland has enjoyed a tourism boom in recent years after the sector recovered from global and domestic financial crises a decade ago, with visitors hitting a fresh high in each of the last five years, reaching almost 11 million in 2019.

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