Businesses have been urged to make preparations for the impact of the coronavirus, with its effects already hitting firms in Ireland.
The chief executive of business lobby group the Irish SME Association (Isme), Neil McDonnell, said firms from nursing homes to retailers should be assessing how they would deal with any disruption that might arise from the diagnosis of any cases here.
He also said small and medium-sized firms especially should also consider having initial discussions with bank managers and accountants to determine how they would weather any potential impact.
Mr McDonnell said it was also important for companies to have contingency plans in place to deal with the absence of key personnel who may either be infected or who may have to self-quarantine if they had visited an area where coronavirus cases had been confirmed or were suspected.
"It's about making a plan," he said. "There are lots of businesses that are capable of functioning on a remote basis by sending people home with their laptops.
"But you have to differentiate those types of businesses from what we call P2P - or person-to-person - businesses such as retail, hospitality, healthcare or delivery.
"All those businesses are predicated on person-to-person interaction, so where that sort of contact is unavoidable, you are going to have to make contingency plans for backfilling, such as talking to agencies about where you'll get similar labour and that sort of thing."
For those P2P businesses, Mr McDonnell agreed that, for small firms especially, the hit to their operations could be significant. "You have to work on the basis that if it does happen, there is going to be an impact," he warned.
He said that while some businesses might have to temporarily close, such an option was not available to operations such as nursing homes.
Mr McDonnell said that one of Isme's members, a wholesaler, sourced 40pc of his stock from China.
"A lot of that is on the high seas now, but he's been told to expect an impact from early April onwards," he said.
"He's not going to be able to set up a separate supply chain in five weeks.
"In those cases, the sort of people you need to be dealing with are your bank managers and accountants, and you need to say 'look, we may need some working capital here and we may need to hit the pause button for a couple of weeks'.
"If you don't have the working capital to hit pause, you're in trouble."
He said that given the current circumstances, firms should also decide whether work travel outside the country was essential.
He said some businesses were also contacting the Isme about what employees' entitlements should be regarding sick pay, for instance, if workers were incapacitated or forced into quarantine.