The coronavirus outbreak threatens to wreak economic havoc with the travel and tourist industry - forcing the cancellation of major sporting and cultural events in Ireland.
The surge in infections in northern Italy - which has led to seven deaths - has increased the risk of a case in Ireland. But it has also escalated the growing financial turmoil caused by the global spread of the virus.
If Ireland's forthcoming Six Nations rugby match against Italy on March 7 in Dublin is cancelled it will mean a multi-million euro loss in spending in the capital.
The expert group in the Department of Health overseeing the virus threat will meet today to decide if the fixture - which would bring a large contingent of Italian fans - should be cancelled.
Although airlines have yet to suspend any Italian flights, the new outbreaks raised the spectre of serious upheaval extending into the lucrative summer tourism season.
European airline stocks experienced their biggest slump since mid-2016 yesterday.
Ryanair and Aer Lingus have insisted their flights to Italy will operate as normal despite the Department of Foreign Affairs advising people not to travel to 10 towns in the north of the country for now.
The airlines expect to take a major financial hit as hundreds of passengers cancel their reservations.
Italy is home to some of Ryanair's busiest bases, with airports including Milan Bergamo and Milan Malpensa handling millions of passengers a year.
The carrier is the biggest airline operating in Italy, carrying about 40 million passengers a year.
Shares in Ryanair had slumped 12pc by yesterday afternoon, cutting almost €2bn from its valuation.
Aer Lingus owner IAG saw its shares tumble almost 8pc, wiping €1.2bn from its stock market valuation.
Last night, the holiday island of Tenerife in the Canaries also reported its first case.
Spanish media reported the man was an Italian doctor who was on holiday in Spain.
He is being kept in isolation and his test results will be sent to Madrid for a second analysis, in accordance with Spanish protocol.
Health Minister Simon Harris said yesterday: "Big decisions will have to be made in the coming days including in relation to mass gatherings including the Ireland and Italy rugby game which is due to take place here in the not too distant future.
"The rugby game is something that needs particular consideration because of the involvement of Italy."
A spokesman for the IRFU said, as things stand, all the games scheduled for the weekend of March 7 will go ahead. This included the U20s and women's games against Italy here the same weekend. This would be subject to advice from the Government.
There are no plans to cancel the St Patrick's Day parade in Dublin.
Summer holiday plans by families who had bookings in Italy were thrown into doubt, although most will hold out on cancelling in the hope the spread of infection recedes.
The number of confirmed cases in Italy rose to 219 yesterday.
The chief of the World Health Organisation Dr Tedros Adhanom warned the planet must prepare for the coronavirus crisis to become a pandemic.
A pandemic is defined as the uncontrolled worldwide spread of a new disease and would lead to the mass cancellation of events. Fears of a pandemic are mounting, with a surge in cases taking the world close to the tipping point with 80,000 confirmed cases and 2,600 deaths.
Thirty-six countries and territories have seen cases of coronavirus, with China worst hit and where 97pc of cases of the pneumonia-causing virus have been recorded.
However, the cases in Italy all involve Italians and the original source has not been found.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising people "for the moment" not to travel to particular towns in Italy.
The towns are Codogno, Castiglione d'Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo and San Fiorano.
The Department of Health was yesterday unable to provide details of the preparation for the provision of intensive care beds in hospitals if there was a high demand arising out of a significant number of coronavirus cases here.
Nobody has tested positive for the disease in Ireland with up to 80 members of the public undergoing testing in recent weeks and proving negative.