The Garda Commissioner has said that gardaí have the power to detain people who refuse to self-isolate and to seal off areas to protect the public from coronavirus.

But Drew Harris said he does not envisage such a situation arising in the near future.

He was speaking as he attended three combined Joint Policing Authority meetings in Co Louth.

The Commissioner said a situation may occur where gardaí have to apply enforcement powers.

He said these powers are backed by present legislation but he insisted that was a "very extreme" scenario and he did not see it arising any time soon.

He also said gardaí would use their powers, in conjunction with the HSE which is the lead agency in this case, and they were making their own preparations to maintain a police service in the event of whatever occurs in the coming days and weeks.

Commissioner Harris also said that he did not envisage any garda station being closed for a long time in the event of an outbreak of the virus there.

He said gardaí already cope with people in custody who may have infectious diseases and he said they have a regime of "deep clean" in place for garda stations and vehicles.