MONTREAL -- With numerous events around the world being cancelled or postponed because of the spread of COVID-19, some in Montreal are expressing concern that the same could happen to the city's Saint Patrick's Day parade.

For 197 years, Montrealers have lined the streets to celebrate the city's Irish heritage.

"It would be a real downer to not have a parade in Montreal and it's kind of like, 'the Rite of Spring,'" said Kevin Tracey, spokesperson for the United Irish Societies of Montreal. "As soon as we have the parade, spring is officially here."

Other parades, including those in Dublin, Ire. and Boston, U.S., have already been cancelled because of the virus.

In order to keep the Montreal parade going, Quebec health officials are asking anyone who may be ill to stay home.

"There aren't many people coming from elsewhere to [the parade], it's more people from here," said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health. "I think it depends. We will take no risk."

He says the hope is that the virus will be tamed as the temperature rises.

"Those kinds of viruses, which are respiratory viruses, go down after the spring," Arruda notes. "So, that will perhaps help us to be able to manage the situation."

So far, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante confirms the parade will go on as scheduled, but that's subject to change, depending on how the situation continues to evolve.