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Covid 19

Health boss advises people against booking holidays

he public has been advised not to book any holidays for the foreseeable future by the Secretary-General of the Department of Health.

Jim Breslin appeared before the Oireachtas Covid Committee today and said that all non-essential travel, including booking holidays, both at home and abroad is not advisable.

“The position at the moment is there should be no non-essential travel overseas, that’ll be kept under review,” Mr Breslin said.

“We will advise the government but I won’t make that decision, nor will it be made only on public health grounds.

“There’s a risk and if you can avoid it you should, at the moment if it’s non-essential you don’t undertake it.”

Mr Breslin added that the situation is fluid and the continuation of mandatory isolation for travellers entering Ireland will need other input from departments and remain under review.

Testing at airports has been dismissed on the grounds that the test may not give an accurate reading depending on how advanced the virus is within the person being tested, and could give a false negative due to how long it takes to become symptomatic.

“If we go back to where we were, if we get to community transmission really low in the country, we can circulate again and get the economy back,” he said.

“If during that process you start importing cases from travel from overseas, you can restart cases and it will lead to a wave, it’s a trade-off and carries a certain level of risk.

“There is a point down the road where we will have sufficient knowledge of community transmission in other countries and may be able to have reciprocal arrangments.”

Mr Breslin believes there will be an unwillingness of the public to travel as normal again, due to anxiety about spreading the virus.

He said: “EU authorities are working with airlines for those who have to travel, and national authorities are making an assessment in terms of public health strategy and moving through phases.

“That may involve different arrangements for different countries.

Mr Breslin suggested there may be reciprocal travel arrangments later in the summer to countries who have low levels of transmission.

He added that there is a case for lifting restrictions earlier if the virus continues to decrease.

Likewise, Niall Burgess from the Department of Foreign Affairs said that Irish people should avoid all non-essential travel.

“As the situation evolves in other countries and our public health advice evolves, travel advice will too.

“I don’t want to speculate where that might take us, we’ve worked closely with the Department of Health and CMO in giving advice on public health risks of travelling overseas.”