Delta variant fears may see change in quarantine rules for UK passengers

Unvaccinated passengers travelling from the region set to face longer minimum isolation

 A traveller at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain. Travellers to the State from Britain are facing changes to self-quarantine rules. Phtotograph:  Andy Rain/EPA

A traveller at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain. Travellers to the State from Britain are facing changes to self-quarantine rules. Phtotograph: Andy Rain/EPA

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The Government is likely to get rid of self-quarantine requirements for travellers arriving here from Britain who have received two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine, but toughen requirements for those travelling from Britain who are not vaccinated.

The Cabinet is likely to discuss the changes and receive an update on the Covid-19 situation when it meets on Tuesday.

Under consideration are new measures to prevent the spread of the more contagious Delta Covid-19 variant, which was first identified in India and is now the dominant strain in Britain.

A memo to Cabinet will recommend the lifting of existing quarantine requirements for travellers from Britain who have received both doses of a vaccine.

At present, travellers from Britain are requested to quarantine at a home address for 14 days on arrival here, but can exit quarantine with a negative or “not detected” Covid-19 PCR test result after five days.

However, travellers who have not received both doses of a vaccine will see their minimum quarantine requirements extended to 10 days, even with a negative test result.

The potential spread of Delta cases, while more than 40 per cent of the adult population still have yet to receive a first dose of a vaccine, puts the Government under pressure to prevent the variant’s transmission while sticking with reopening plans.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney confirmed there would be “some changes” to the quarantine and travel rules to reflect the danger posed by the Delta variant.

Growing concern

There is some concern growing within Government about the spread of the Delta variant in the UK, though Ministers remain keen to proceed with the reopening plans for Irish society.

The Delta variant is more than 60 per cent more transmissible than the Alpha strain, the dominant variant in this country. It is also more resistant to vaccines, though fully vaccinated people have high levels of protection against severe disease or hospitalisation.

Cases of the Delta variant have more than doubled in the UK in the past week but remain low here, at 139 detected cases on case samples.

Some 111 probable and confirmed cases of the variant have been identified in Northern Ireland, including 28 in Kilteel in Co Down.

A further 315 Covid-19 cases were reported in the State on Sunday. There were 62 people in hospital with the disease, including 22 in intensive care units.

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