The Department of Foreign Affairs has updated its advice in the light of the coronavirus outbreak and is advising Irish people to re-consider travelling to China.
It comes as several airlines, including British Airways, have suspended flights to China as the coronavirus threat escalates.
The message from the Department of Foreign Affairs is: ”In Hubei, where the situation is still developing, increasingly strong containment measures are coming online.
“Travel within the province has become tightly controlled and all tourist facilities have been closed. Under these circumstances, travellers are advised against visiting the province of Hubei.“
Regarding the remainder of mainland China, the situation remains very fluid and it is likely that increasing containment measures will be deployed by the Chinese Government.
In this environment, the advice of the Embassy of Ireland is to reconsider non-essential travel to and within China at this time, as citizens may be affected by increased containment measures, which can include a ban on movement within and between cities in China.
If you feel that you may want to leave China soon, you should consider making plans to do so before any further restrictions may be imposed.
“Travellers and residents should be aware of delays and checks when entering or leaving China, or large cities within China, and when travelling from China to other countries, particularly at airports.
“The risk of delay or cancellation of travel is particularly heightened if the person travelling exhibits symptoms of fever, respiratory illness, and coughing, and we would advise against travel to or within China under these circumstances.“
Irish people who are stranded in the coronavirus-hit city of Wuhan and want to leave are expected to benefit from a move by the European Commission to start helping repatriate Europeans.
The Commission has activated its EU Civil Protection Mechanism, under which it will co-fund two planes to bring EU citizens back from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the virus outbreak.
France had requested assistance to provide consular support to EU citizens in Wuhan.
"This is a first request for assistance and others may follow in the coming days," the commission said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin has indicated its officials were exploring options, including commercial options, for helping Irish citizens to leave the region if needed.
A small community of at least six Irish nationals is living in Wuhan and several are settled with families or partners and will not be leaving.
Countries around the world are planning to evacuate diplomatic staff and private citizens from Chinese areas hit by the coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly in China.
A small number of cases has been confirmed elsewhere.
The EU will co-finance the transport costs of the aircraft, the first due to depart France today and the second due to leave later this week.
People who choose to return here from Wuhan will have to undergo medical assessment to determine if they have symptoms or could be incubating the virus.
It may mean that they will have to self-isolate for about two weeks before getting the all-clear and getting confirmation that they do not have the virus.
The cases raise concerns about the spread of the flu-like virus that broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of last year and has killed 132 people and infected more than 6,000. It spreads in droplets from coughs and sneezes and has an incubation period of up to 14 days.
Following an advisory from the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) is recommending that customers avoid travelling to the Hubei province of China entirely, and reconsider travelling to the rest of China unless it is absolutely essential amid the outbreak of coronavirus in a number of Chinese cities.
The ITAA is also advising affected holidaymakers in the country to follow the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Chinese local authorities and accommodation providers.
Four people who work at the same company in Germany have been infected with the coronavirus, and one of them contracted it from a colleague visiting from China, officials said last night.