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Delta surge fears as country opens up to foreign visitors


With the EU’s Digital Covid Certs in circulation, trips abroad are back on the agenda. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

With the EU’s Digital Covid Certs in circulation, trips abroad are back on the agenda. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

With the EU’s Digital Covid Certs in circulation, trips abroad are back on the agenda. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Fears are rising over a Delta surge engulfing Ireland as the country opens up its borders to foreign travel today.

More than 3,700 cases have been reported here over the past three days, and it has been warned that travel, particularly from the UK, could see a further surge in cases.

From today non-essential travel is tpermitted in Ireland, while England is opening up for its so-called ‘Freedom Day’.

The move by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will see mandatory mask-wearing dropped, nightclubs reopen and limits on the number of people a person can meet indoors ceasing.

Yesterday the UK recorded more than 48,000 cases of Covid-19.

“If travel increases from the UK into Ireland, it’s very likely we will get an increase in cases from that,” UCD virologist Dr Gerald Barry told the Irish Independent.

“People will bring the virus with them, maybe unknowingly, but it will throw fuel on the fire. And we have a pretty good fire burning here already with case numbers.”

Around 10pc of new Covid-19 cases are related to travel since the end of June, as people started returning to EU holiday spots such as Spain and Portugal.

Niamh O’Beirne, the HSE’s national lead for testing and tracing, said: “We are seeing an increased number of people with a travel history in the last 14 days, particularly from some of the holiday locations in Europe.

“We have also got about 10pc of cases now which have a travel history,” she told Newstalk’s On the Record.

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More than 150,000 people are expected to travel through Dublin Airport alone this week as restrictions ease, including over 22,500 today.

Despite the spiralling case numbers in the UK, vaccinated passengers can travel into Ireland from today, without having to quarantine.

Dr Barry said: “If people can come to Ireland without any quarantine, isolation or testing, it will encourage travel and that’s a concern.

“The reality is the situation in the UK is incredible, to put it mildly in terms of case numbers.

“This variant is incredibly infectious, much more than anything seen up to now.

“We even know there’s potential for vaccinated people to carry the virus, to transmit it to others and UK teenagers aren’t vaccinated.

“We know teenagers transmit the virus, just as much as adults. It might not be as dramatic as winter but it’s not good to have a huge number of cases, allowing the virus to circulate and evolve in the face of a vaccine being continuously bombarded.

“It almost encourages a way of evolving the virus to overcome the vaccine,” Dr Barry added.

Meanwhile, the Government still looks set to clear indoor drinking and dining in spite of growing concerns about a new surge of cases over the past five days.

Senior political sources acknowledged there was growing concern in Government about the sustained rise in cases – but they noted that increases in hospitalisations were small and intensive care numbers remained steady.

This and advice from the government advisory group, Nphet, continues to suggest the reopening, expected to begin next week, will not be disrupted.

“At all the meetings which have been held, there has been no talk of anyone eyeing the emergency break – up to this point at any rate,” one well-placed source said last night.

The source added that the reopening being restricted to those fully vaccinated further strengthened the likelihood of it going ahead.

Addressing the issue in Cork on Saturday night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Government will only sign off on the resumption of indoor dining on Wednesday after carefully considering all advice.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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