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Extra Digital Covid Cert helpline set up after callers face difficulties getting in touch

The call centre went live yesterday, but many people reported wait times of up to two hours.

Image: Shutterstock/chainarong06

AN EXTRA DIGITAL Covid Certificate (DCC) helpline has been launched following frustration yesterday as many people couldn’t get through to an operator. 

The original helpline went fully operational yesterday as part of Ireland’s adoption of the EU-wide DCC system from, with the Department of Health saying it has been “handling a very high volume of calls”. 

The DCC is a standardised EU system which allows people to travel across member states without quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months or have recently tested negative. 

People who are fully vaccinated should get their cert without requesting one, either by post or by email, but people who are entitled to one after recovering from the virus are being asked to contact the call centre to secure one.

The call centre is also being used for people who are entitled to a DCC through vaccination but have not yet received one and also for general queries. 

Despite the call centre being advertised from yesterday, numerous people reported being unable to get through while others reported wait times of up to two hours. 

A number of calls made by The Journal to the helpline were not connected and instead an error tone was heard on the line. 

An extra helpline has now been set up to help alleviate pressure.

Minister of State Robert Troy has said the extra helpline will be in place from this morning. 

“Its volume will take up to 22,000 calls so the person ringing will not get the call failed message,” Troy said. 

The extra helpline’s number is 1800 807 008.

A temporary call centre for people who had queries relating to the DCC sent out them was online last week and received about 4,000 calls on its first day. 

Most of the people who called up did not stay on the line to speak to one of the operators, with government officials saying they “were hoping” the callers got the information they needed on the recorded voice message. 

Last week’s temporary call centre was staffed by 25-30 operators but the official helpline starting today was to have 60-90 operators dealing with all aspects of the system. 

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The call centre will be operated from Ireland but some of the agents may be in the UK.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin also acknowledged yesterday that there have been “issues” with the helpline. 

“There have been issues with the helpline, but I can assure you the government is working very hard in order to get that system back up and running as quickly as possible,” she said. 

Minister of State Ossian Smyth also tweeted yesterday about the issues, saying that “it is important to remember that the DCC is not essential for travelling, you can still travel on your vaccine card or a negative PCR test.”

With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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