NPHET in favour of stopping all non-essential travel
"The regime that's there at the moment will not stop all cases coming into this country."
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn has said that the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is in favour of stopping all non-essential travel in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland.
Speaking at an Oireachtas Health Committee meeting on Friday, Glynn said that NPHET has previously requested that mandatory quarantine for visitors into Ireland to be introduced and for “any elements of discretion as it applies to be travel to be removed, so far as is possible”.
“It’s up to others to decide what is possible,” Glynn added.
As the Covid-19 crisis in Ireland continues, the issue of mandatory quarantine for travellers into the country has been a subject of much discussion this week.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that the introduction of such a measure would be “disproportionate” and questioned whether it would be workable.
Speaking in the Dáil earlier this week, Varadkar offered three reasons as to why that might be the case; the fact that positive cases of Covid-19 in Ireland are not quarantined, EU freedom of movement rules and difficulty in controlling the border with Northern Ireland.
Varadkar added that the numbers of people coming into Ireland had come down to approximately 33,000 people per week, the vast majority of whom, Varadkar claimed, were travelling for essential reasons.
He added that there was a high degree of compliance with the recently introduced need for incoming travellers to produce a negative PCR test for Covid-19 and fines issued to those in breach of the rules.
Previously, NPHET had warned the government that the pre-travel PCR test in itself was “not a sufficiently robust system for the prevention of disease importation” and that the best performing tests would miss approximately 40% of positive Covid-19 cases.
At the Oireachtas Health Committee meeting, Glynn said: "The regime that's there at the moment will not stop all cases coming into this country."
On Thursday evening, meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen revealed that the EU is set to introduce ‘dark red’ travel zones, where stricter travel restrictions would apply in member states where Covid-19 is circulating at a very high level.
Under the EU’s ‘traffic light’ system introduced last year, the vast majority of EU member states are currently categorised as being in a ‘red’ zone, including Ireland.
New US president Joe Biden, meanwhile, also revealed that the United States has introduced the need for pre-travel Covid tests and quarantine for all individuals flying into the country.