Immunologist calls arrival of tourists from worst-hit Covid-19 states in US “outrageous” and “disgraceful”
"This is a surefire way to increase the chances of spikes and surges coming to Ireland."
The arrival in Ireland of tourists from some of the states worst affected by Covid-19 in the United States has been described as “outrageous” and “disgraceful” by a leading Irish immunologist.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk on Monday, in response to US tourists having arrived in Ireland last Friday, Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College in Dublin, said it was a “big mistake” that tourists from states such as Texas are being permitted entry into the country.
“It’s outrageous Pat, isn’t it?” O’Neill said.
“Here we have one of the most dangerous places in the world for Covid-19, which is to say Texas, for example, or Arizona, the numbers are terrifying there, they’re breaking records every day Pat with the numbers going up there.
“And yet people are coming in to Ireland from those places, I think it's disgraceful, because we're trying to avoid a surge or a spike, aren’t we?
“And yet people are coming in from a country that's got a very high level of virus in the community so it’s a big mistake that we’re letting these people in, sadly, because the tourist trade wants them, but this is a surefire way to increase the chances of spikes and surges coming to Ireland."
On Friday, American Airlines announced that it was resuming passenger flights between Ireland and the United States, with three return flights a week between Dublin Airport and Dallas Fort Worth Airport in Texas.
On Saturday (11 July) alone, there was a record high 10,351 cases of Covid-19 reported in Texas. Five flights from the US, including one from Dallas Fort Worth, are due to arrive in Dublin Airport before 8am on Tuesday morning (14 July). The other flights are arriving from New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Newark.
Currently, unlike the rest of the European Union, there is no ban on US visitors travelling to Ireland.
Addressing the guidelines that apply to people entering the country from overseas, O’Neill said: “I don’t get it, do you Pat?
“It’s obviously a complicated thing to control, this, but everything in our powers we should be doing to control people coming into Ireland at this stage of the pandemic, clearly… there should be really close attention paid to this.”
"The risk now absolutely is travel,” O’Neill added.
“The virus is almost gone… the numbers are well down in Ireland, as we all know we’re doing great, little tiny increases here and there but let’s see what the trend is like, but the surefire way to cause a surge here is by people coming into the country, without doubt and look what’s happening, it seems to be slightly chaotic, doesn’t it?
“I mean, even I don’t know the full guidelines, do you?”
You can listen to the conversation with O’Neill on The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk here.