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'Complacency is our biggest enemy now': People warned about foreign travel as restrictions ease

Liz Canavan said worrying Covid-19 trends have been seen in Ireland and abroad recently.

Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach (file photo).
Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach (file photo).
Image: Leon Farrell/

THE GOVERNMENT HAS asked members of the public to not become complacent as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease.

Speaking at a briefing today, Liz Canavan, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach, called on people to continue to follow public health guidelines and avoid unnecessary travel.

Canavan said a recent “troubling” survey from the CSO indicates that around 60% of respondents rated their personal compliance with government advice as high, down from over 80% in April.

“It’s really important that we’re aware that Covid-19 is still with us, it hasn’t gone away.

“If we do not continue to moderate our behaviour, it can begin circulating again. What all of this tells us is we just can’t be complacent – complacency is our biggest enemy now.”

Canavan urged people to continue to maintain good hygiene and social distancing, and to wear face masks on public transport, which will soon be mandatory, and in shops.

Travelling abroad

Canavan noted that “worrying” trends are happening abroad, and said there is uncertainty about foreign travel.

“We have seen some new outbreaks in other countries in the last few weeks, how easy it is for this virus to begin to take hold again.

“Countries that have had a low incidence are seeing a resurgence, countries that eased restrictions and thought they went through the worst have had to lock down cities or areas again, that is happening in Europe and worldwide.”

She added that concerning trends are also evident in Ireland, stating: “Last week 43% of new cases reported here in Ireland were in young people and there have been reports of similar trends in other countries.

“We have also seen an increased number of cases associated with travel … This week alone we have reportedly at least six cases of Covid-19 associated of international travel.”

Canavan said the government understands the issue of foreign travel is “causing great uncertainty”.

“Some people have holidays booked and are wondering what to do. We are acutely aware of this and we would ask you to bear with us.

“This situation is undoubtedly volatile from a disease point of view internationally. The government has committed to preparing a roadmap for safe overseas travel and will finalise its considerations on this very shortly.”

Canavan said it’s “important to remember the early days of this pandemic and that our early cases in Ireland were associated with international travel, realising how infectious Covid is, and the very real possibility that a person won’t have any symptoms”.

“The risk now is a new imported case or cases spreading in the community before we can identify and break the chains of transmission.”

Canavan said that while people start to have more freedom, and more business reopen, we must remember that Covid-19 “has not changed”.

“It’s the same infectious disease as it was the beginning of all of this. It is still a disease, you can carry and pass on while not having any symptoms.

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“It is still the disease that is most dangerous for older people, and those of any age have underlying health conditions…

“We have to keep up the good work, or risk losing all the ground we’ve gained. It is of course hugely important that we reopen society, the economy and travel, but all the time balancing the risk of another wave of infection around the country.”

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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