Coronavirus: Simon Harris reveals people purposefully coughed in his face
The Republic's health minister Simon Harris has revealed that two people approached him in public and purposefully coughed in his face.
Mr Harris said the pair walked away laughing.
The minister said the incident and other similar reported incidents are "disgusting".
He was responding to a question about the so-called "Corona challenge" on social media in which young people video themselves coughing into people's faces.
Mr Harris said: "As I was walking from here (Government Buildings) to my department, a man and a woman on the street thought it was hilariously funny to come up and cough at me out loud and then run off laughing.
"Can we please, as people, just look at what is happening in Italy and in the European Union, where we are seeing several hundred people a day dying of a virus that can be deadly to certain people.
"When we think, particularly of older people, who are being targeted in relation to this, and there seems to be some sort of social media game, but it's not a game, it's disgusting, where you target people in your community, generally older people.
"You go up and cough in their face, video it, have a laugh and run off - just think if it was your granny, granddad, mother, father, your own friend with an underlying health condition, like cystic fibrosis.
"The Irish people have been absolutely amazing in relation to this, but anything that takes off in relation to that on social media will have to be dealt with by the full rigours of all of the powers of the State.
"There's nothing amusing about it, it's quite pathetic."