Covid Cert helpline receives 70,000 calls in its first three days

Staff handled less than 7% of queries over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday

The Department of Health urged people to call the Digital Covid Certificate helpline only if they plan to travel in the next 10 days. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

The Department of Health urged people to call the Digital Covid Certificate helpline only if they plan to travel in the next 10 days. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

The helpline for people with queries on the Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) for international travel has handled less than 7 per cent of the calls it received in its first three days.

Staff handled 4,761 of the 70,000 calls the centre received over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The helpline was set up for people who have been fully vaccinated that have yet to receive their DCC and also for those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months who can obtain a certificate for travel on the basis that they have enhanced immunity from the virus.

There have been complaints from would be holiday-makers of long wait-times and concern that they have not got their DCC in time for planned trips.

The centre opened with 55 staff and this has risen to more than 80 with more than 100 to be in place next week.

The Department of Health urged people to call only if they plan to travel in the next 10 days.

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It said the centre was dealing with “complex queries, with over 150 scripts developed to assist agents”.

It added: “Current demand suggests that many people are calling that are not due to travel in the short term.

“These non-urgent calls are adding very significant wait times to all calls, and preventing many urgent calls from getting through.”

The increase in international travel has coincided with a rise in Covid cases in the State.

Over the past two weeks, 75 per cent of positive cases were among those aged under 34 and 32 per cent were in children under 13 years old, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said on Thursday.

One in 10 positive cases over the same period was related to overseas travel in the previous 14 days.

Travel-related cases

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said on Thursday: “The Delta variant is now dominant across the EU and, in recent weeks, we have noticed a sharp increase in the level of travel-related cases of Covid-19.

“As disease incidence increases both here in Ireland, and across Europe, it is important that, if you intend on travelling, you are aware of the disease profile in the area you are visiting, as well as the public health measures in place locally.

“Only those who are fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last 180 days should be considering international travel at this time.”

Anyone who had recently returned to Ireland and who had symptoms of Covid-19 including fever, cough, headache, sore throat or a blocked or runny nose should self-isolate and get tested without delay, he said.