People who booked overseas trips should not travel due to risk - Holohan

No new Covid-19 related deaths but ‘worrying’ new trends as 24 new cases reported

Dublin GAA footballer Siobhán Killeen spoke at a Department Of Health press briefing on her experience of recovering from Covid-19. Video: @RoinnSlainte


People who have booked overseas trips should not travel at present due to the risk to themselves, families and the wider society, according to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Asked whether people should cancel their summer holidays abroad, Dr Holohan said public health officials would like them not to travel in their individual interest and in the collective interest.

He urged holidaymakers to think about the risk to themselves, family members and for society. “Think about other people and the risk you might pose even if you [if infected] recover very well, for people who are more vulnerable.”

No new deaths of patients with Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Monday. This leaves the total number of deaths linked to the disease at 1,735.

NPHET also reported another 24 new confirmed cases of the disease at its briefing, bringing the total number of cases to 25,462. Nine of the cases involved people aged under 35.

Dr Holohan said public health officials were beginning to see some “worrying” new trends, with the number of reported cases increasing and some new clusters.

At least six of the new cases are linked to international travel, public health officials said. More than 1.1 million new cases were reported globally last week, they pointed out. In recent days, there has been an “uptick” in cases and this needed to be watched closely.

Some recent clusters of the disease had occurred as a result of people returning from abroad, he said, and were “exactly the kind of thing we’re trying to avoid”.

One recent case had necessitated the testing of more than 20 contacts of a confirmed case, compared with a previous average of two or three, Dr Holohan said.

The case occurred in the northwest, and involved travel to Iraq and back, officials said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said: “The risk of imported cases remains high. It’s important that continue to avoid all unnecessary travel at this time.”

Dr Holohan urged people, as they move around more, to use the tools that have helped suppress the virus to date, such as hand-washing, respiratory etiquette and wearing face coverings.

Dr Siobhán Kennelly, HSE national clinical adviser and Group Lead for Older Persons said: “Many restrictions have now been lifted and people are getting out more, including those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable.

“Socialising is important for your mental and physical wellbeing, but it’s important that you are safe while doing so. Wear a face covering, know the symptoms of Covid-19 and contact your GP straight away if you feel unwell.”

Dublin GAA footballer Siobhán Killeen, who contracted the virus in March, urged the public, and especially under-35s, to protect themselves against Covid-19.

Killeen (27) told the briefing she had been “naive” to think her age would protect her against the disease. However, although she did not need hospitalisation, her fitness deteriorated, and she suffered shortness of breath.

She said the unknowns around the new disease were “frightening” adding that the guilt around thinking she had put others at risk was “overwhelming”.

Some 45 per cent of the population now say they wear face coverings, according to research conducted for the Department of Health. It shows 53 per cent of women and 36 per cent of men saying they fear face coverings.

Two out of three of those surveyed believe we will see a second wave of the disease, 25 per cent say more restrictions should be introduced and 31 per cent believe we are trying to return to normal too fast.

There were no new admissions to ICU and one to hospital since Friday, officials said.

Some 359 out of 453 clusters that occurred in residential care facilities are now closed, after two weeks passed since the last infection ended. In nursing homes, 195 out of 253 outbreaks are closed.

Residential care facilities account for 63 per cent of deaths in the pandemic; nursing homes alone accounted for 56 per cent.

Mobility data sourced through Apple show levels of car-driving almost back to normal levels after the lockdown, while walking is 40 per cent down and public transport usage 60 per cent down.

Northern Ireland

Meanwhile, the North’s Department of Health recorded one more Covid-19 death in Northern Ireland in its daily bulletin on Monday afternoon taking the fatality total to 551.

The number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the North rose by six to 5,757. So far 109,684 people have been tested in Northern Ireland for the virus.

The North’s Executive agreed on Monday to increase the number of people permitted to meet outdoors from 10 to 30 under further easing of the coronavirus restrictions. The number of people allowed to meet indoors remains at a maximum of six.

Legal advice is being sought regarding making face coverings mandatory on public transport in Northern Ireland, and is to be discussed at an Executive meeting on Thursday.

The first minister, Arlene Foster, said the Executive’s current position was that “we strongly recommend that people wear face coverings in enclosed settings such as public transport or other small areas.”

Questioned at the Executive’s coronavirus media briefing on Monday if passengers travelling by train between Dublin and Belfast could face two contradictory policies regarding the wearing of face coverings, Ms Foster said it would be “nonsensical if you’re wearing a mask and you’re on a train that’s going to Dublin then you should be wearing the mask.”

The North’s Executive on Monday reviewed the regulations on international travel which came into operation on June 8th, and agreed that they were still required.

Under the regulations anyone who arrives into Northern Ireland who started their journey outside the Common Travel Area must self-isolated for 14 days. Breaches are punishable by a fine of up to £1,000.

The first minister, Arlene Foster, said further discussions were ongoing and potential amendments to the regulations would be considered when the Executive meets on Thursday.

Asked by The Irish Times about the warning from the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, that he was “beyond nervous” about any increase in overseas travel, Ms Foster, said that while the Executive would be listening to the “four nations of the UK” and the advice of the North’s Chief Medical Officer, she “did note what the Republic’s chief medical officer had to say about this, and the fact that he is quite nervous about international travel is something we should take cognisance of.

“We wait to have that discussion on Thursday about these issues,” she said.