Ireland and other EU countries have been told to be on alert for possible cases of the coronavirus.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control now rates the risk of the occurrence of cases as moderate to high.
Experts fear the outbreak is reaching a global tipping point, as cases soar outside China for the first time.
There have been no confirmed cases of the illness here but South Korea has reported 161 new infections, while several towns in northern Italy have been shut off.
Four people who caught the virus on a cruise ship in Japan were allowed to fly back to the UK, before getting their test results.
Two Irish citizens were on the same evacuation flight, but it's not known whether they've been infected.