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Officials advise holidays abroad only after vaccination as travel-related cases rise sharply

Public health doctors are reporting an increasing number of cases in people who travelled abroad before full immunity kicked in.

HEALTH OFFICIALS HAVE advised that people only travel abroad if they are fully vaccinated as cases related to travel are on the rise.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that while the vast majority of cases have acquired Covid-19 in Ireland, the number of travel-related cases has “increased very sharply” recently.

He said 800 travel-related cases were reported in the last fortnight alone and 75% of these cases were aged less than 35 years.

Although people can travel on the basis of being either fully vaccinated, immune as a result of prior infection or with a negative Covid test, Dr Glynn said it is “strongly advised that people only travel on the basis of your vaccination/immunity”.

This immunity, he added, does not kick in immediately after a second dose of a vaccine, or the one dose Janssen jab.

“Public health colleagues are reporting an increasing number of cases in people who have travelled overseas very shortly after they have completed their vaccine course,” he said.

“If travelling, it is very important that people are aware of the disease profile in the area that they are visiting.

“The situation has deteriorated very rapidly across many parts of Europe, including Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

“In Ireland, we have recorded hundreds of cases in people recently returned from these regions.”

From 5 to 18 July, 676 cases were recorded in people who had returned from Spain, Britain and Portugal in the previous fortnight.

However, there was significant push back from government sources following Dr Glynn’s tweet about a “sharp increase” in travel-related cases.

When asked about the issue today, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said “it’s a lower burden at the moment, than it was in terms of its contribution to the problem”.

“The HPSC figures would show that it had been at 8% or 9% of all cases now it’s fallen to about 6% so you know it’s important that we see it as a risk in the way everything that we do is a risk, but it’s a risk that actually is falling, in terms of the percentage of new cases,” he added.

The Tánaiste said it was important to “see this in context and see the whole picture.”

He said: “So what the Deputy CMO pointed out yesterday is that there are about 800 cases in the past 14 days related to foreign travel so you know that’s 50 or 60 a day at a time when we have more than 1,000 cases a day.

“So while the number of cases related to foreign travel is increasing, as people travel, the percentage of cases related to foreign travel is actually falling.”

Health officials reported 1,189 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, with 95 patients with the disease in hospital. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Covid-19 epidemiological advisory committee, said indoor socialisation and travel for the unvaccinated “unfortunately need to wait”.

He said those who are fully vaccinated need to support those who have not yet received their jabs “and do everything we can to facilitate them living their lives to the fall in the meantime”.

Nolan said he knows people are exhausted but everyone, even those who are fully vaccinated, still need to pay attention to the basic public health advice.

“I can see it as I go around myself, we’re simply getting too close, we’ve forgotten how easy it is to transmit this virus,” he said. “Those of us who are vaccinated may be feeling inappropriately bulletproof. We have very high levels of protection, but we’re not absolutely protected.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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