Holohan 'beyond worried' coronavirus infections could increase when air travel restrictions lifted

Chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, says he's “beyond worried” Covid-19 infections could increase here when more air travel is allowed into the country.
Holohan 'beyond worried' coronavirus infections could increase when air travel restrictions lifted
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Dr Alan Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group at a Covid-19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Dr Alan Smith, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group at a Covid-19 update press conference at the Department of Health. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, says he's “beyond worried” Covid-19 infections could increase here when more air travel is allowed into the country.

He made his comments after Professor Philip Nolan, who monitors the spread of the virus, said an increasing number of recent cases relate to travel: "People have come here from other European countries, some parts of Asia and North America in the last 14 days. We are worried about that and the extent to which that will continue."

From July 9 the Government plans to establish a list of 'airbridges' to countries with similar or lower levels of infection, meaning that travellers do not have to undergo quarantine.

Dr Holohan said the number of suitable candidate countries with infection rates lower than Ireland is small.

World Health Organisation (WHO) analysis shows that the seven-day incidence of Covid-19 in Ireland is among the lowest in the EU. However, Dr Holohan said there is a considerable risk of resurgence of infection across Europe, in whole countries, or regions: "We are beyond nervous. We are concerned about travel as a potential source of infection for this country. If there are countries that have verifiable information that tells us that they are either below the threshold that makes sense ... then we can contemplate those arrangements."

Meanwhile, the Policing Authority has reported that while the gardaí generally had good relations with most communities while using their Covid-19 lockdown powers there were some exceptions.

The authority said in communities where feedback had been negative, it could be attributed to factors such as the “frequent turnover in community gardaí which mitigates against relationship building, non-responsiveness to call-outs, and a lack of consistency of tone and respect from all garda members". It has sent its report to the Minister for Justice and Equality and initiated discussions with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and his senior officers on its findings.

Policing Authority chairman, Bob Collins, says it “will offer important opportunities for learning by all concerned” including the gardaí, public policy-makers and his own organisation.

Mr Collins said the findings provide “immense potential” to be embedded in the training and professional development of all gardaí. He said the Policing Authority will continue to keep under review the use of the emergency powers and the impact on individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable.

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