Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is due in Washington today to begin a brief St Patrick's Day programme that has already been disrupted by the coronavirus crisis.
Mr Varadkar was due in New York yesterday to hold a series of meetings related to Ireland's bid for a place on the UN Security Council. However, his plans were cancelled to allow him to deal with the outbreak in Ireland.
New York is one of the worst-affected areas in the US with more confirmed cases than any other state.
The lobbying for the Security Council spot was due to continue nonetheless last night with UN ambassadors invited to the opening night of the 'Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show' at Radio City Music Hall.
Mr Varadkar will take part in the annual Ireland Funds gala dinner in the US capital tonight. Tomorrow he is due to meet President Donald Trump at the White House after a breakfast meeting with Vice-President Mike Pence. Mr Varadkar will then attend a lunch hosted by Nancy Pelosi on Capitol Hill before returning to the White House for the traditional shamrock presentation. Mr Trump is reportedly boycotting the lunch.
Italy woke up on Sunday morning to news that the region of Lombardy was on lockdown due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In truth it was hardly a surprise, most people had expected it. We had seen the situation escalate over a two-week period. From two, to five cases in a cluster in Codogno and Veneto, to 30 and 100, then 200 and 300, and so on. The vast majority of cases occurred in Lombardy with a small number in the south.