Fears overseas travel could trigger second virus wave

Fears overseas travel could trigger second virus wave

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said public health officials are concerned a big increase in international travel could see a second wave of Covid-19 in Ireland.

He said the advice remains that all non-essential travel overseas should be avoided.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly said the Government still plans to publish a “green” list of countries on 9 July, but no decision has been made on when it will be activated.

“July 9 is a decision that has been taken to publish a list.There may be a recommendation to Cabinet [on Monday] that that might change,” he said.

The minister said he understood that the issue is of great concern to people, who may have already booked holidays or who may be planning a trip abroad, and the National Public Health Emergency is meeting today on the issue.

He said that although airlines have taken a lot of steps to minimise the risk of infection while people are travelling to their destinations, there is no such thing as zero risk.

He said for public health officials the real concern is about people contracting the disease abroad and bringing it back to Ireland.

Cases of Covid-19 in Ireland from international travel was at 2% for the last few months, but has risen to 17% in the last few weeks, he said.

The minister said the international situation is quite volatile and countries that were doing quite well have seen an increase in Covid-19 cases in the last 14 days, with France reporting 6,000 new cases while 5,000 were reported in Spain and Portugal.

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Minister Donnelly said he is looking at the impact of Covid-19 on the health system and other ministers are looking at its impact on education and the economy and it is important to get the reopening of the country right.

He said the situation on reopening Europe’s borders is nuanced, with different countries taking different approaches.

For Covid-19, the World Health Organization says that data to date suggests that 80% of infections are mild or asymptomatic; 15% are severe infection, requiring oxygen and 5% are critical, requiring ventilation.

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