All sporting fixtures and events in Laois, Offaly and Kildare should be cancelled for the foreseeable future in the aftermath of the increase in Covid-19 cases in the three counties, according to a Fianna Fáil minister of state.

Laois-Offaly TD and Minister of State for the Department of Finance Seán Fleming has said the GAA and all other sporting organisations should act now in calling off planned games.

Laois GAA have said they are monitoring the situation but, at present, all games are going ahead as planned this weekend.

Mr Fleming said the people of the area were facing a very serious situation and he was also advising that residents should avoid unnecessary travel out of the region in the coming days. 

He said that even before the lockdown residents had stayed at home unless for essential journeys and he believed this was now advisable again as best practice while the virus was spreading in the three counties.

Mr Fleming also said he believed all workers in all of the country's meat factories should be tested again at this point as vigilance was now required. 

There are four games in the Kildare SHC and four in the Offaly SFC fixed for this weekend, along with a large number of matches at age grade and junior levels in the three counties.

Offaly GAA released a statement saying they had been in touch with Croke Park and will proceed with their schedule as planned but will abide by any Government directions. 

The Kildare and District Underage League has multiple soccer fixtures, from Under-7 to Under-17, listed over the next week. 

There are also horse racing cards at the Curragh on Sunday and next Friday. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Sarah McInerney programme, James Lawless, FF TD for Kildare North, said: "Unfortunately, it does make sense for that kind of voluntary withdrawal from group behaviours, which include if you are playing a game of GAA or soccer or anything that involves people getting down and dirty on a playing field, in close proximity. 

"I think people are going to have to put their hands up and say, 'do you know what, we are going to voluntarily withdraw from those activities and suspend games and fixtures for the next number of weeks’." 

Colm Brophy, Minister of State, Department of Foreign Affairs, told the progamme that the Government needs to be cautious in its approach.

He said he understands livelihoods are at stake when it comes to delaying Phase 4, but said we need to be guided by medical advice. 

He said the importance of "human life should be guiding our decisions".

Deputy Brophy said we need to deal with areas like meat plants to make sure we need to stop the spread of the virus. 

He added that "no one has called for a knee-jerk decision to close down anywhere". 

On this week’s RTÉ GAA podcast a leading disease expert said he believed that on the country's current track there will be no inter-county GAA season this year, warning that the number of cases of Covid-19 will continue to rebound if restrictions on sports and wider society are eased while the disease is still spreading. 

The Department of Health yesterday announced five new deaths and 69 new cases in the Republic of Ireland, up from a handful of new cases this time last month. 

Asked what he thought the current prospects were for completing the All-Ireland championships in 2020, UCC Professor Gerry Killeen, the college's AXA Research Chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology, said: "Safely, I would say zero." 

He added: "For the GAA, it’s an insoluble puzzle. How do you play a game of hurling socially distanced? It’s not possible." 

On Monday, Laois clubs Park-Ratheniska and Timahoe, who field a combined team in hurling, informed members that they were stopping all club activities after a member tested positive for Covid-19, while a Meath club, Ballinabrackey, which is located near the borders with Offaly, Kildare and Westmeath, suspended all activity following a positive test

Earlier this week, the Government decided not to proceed with the latest easing of restrictions on crowds at outdoor events, leaving the number at no more than 200. 

It had been hoped that the number would have been increased to 500. 

Listen to the RTÉ GAA Podcast at Apple Podcasts, SoundcloudSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.