Government should question necessity of passenger flights – Immunology expert

Eighty-six flights due to arrive and depart from Dublin airport on Friday

Immunology expert Professor Kingston Mills has called on the Government to question airlines about the necessity for passenger flights in and out of Ireland. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Immunology expert Professor Kingston Mills has called on the Government to question airlines about the necessity for passenger flights in and out of Ireland. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Immunology expert Professor Kingston Mills has called on the Government to question airlines about the necessity for passenger flights in and out of Ireland.

“For the last number of weeks I’ve been looking on the Dublin airport website and seeing substantial numbers of passenger flights to-ing and fro-ing from Europe, ” he told RTÉ’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show on Friday.

“The Government has to talk to the airlines perhaps and say do you need to have these flights? Or put in place the restrictions already in place in New Zealand - I think there is a need for stricter measures here.

“That’s one element that caused a lot of problems early in the pandemic – we allowed flights still to come from Northern Italy and from other areas that brought in a lot of the early cases, now we have community spread of the virus and that’s a big issue.

“There were two ways of dealing with this – one you either keep people indoors and stop them from coming in contact with each other – that can be effective. The other way which China and Korea did very effectively is contact tracing of everybody who was in contact with somebody infected, we’re not doing that here.”

However, Prof Kingston warned that this would completely over power the testing facilities here. “We’re not doing contact tracing to the extent that it was done in China or Korea. The capacity is not there to do it,” he added.

“If somebody is infected in the community everybody who was in contact with them is not being tested. That needs to be done, if you want an alternative to lockdown.”

Scheduled to travel

Fewer than 1,000 people are scheduled to travel through Dublin airport on Friday, with the actual number of passengers expected to turn up likely to be less.

There would typically be more than 100,000 passengers flying through the airport at Easter, according to DAA, which operates and manages Dublin and Cork airports.

There are 86 flights due to arrive and depart from Dublin airport – 14 of which are cargo flights and four which stop in Dublin for refuelling.

“Dublin airport is open as an essential service for cargo and repatriation flights in line with Irish government policy,” a DAA spokeswoman said.

“Fewer than 1,000 passengers are scheduled to travel today, however the actual number of passengers that will turn up is expected to be less than that.”

The HSE has staff at Dublin airport and all arriving passengers are being informed they need to limit their movements for 14 days.

“Health and travel policies in relation to Covid-19 are set by the Irish Government and Dublin airport has been complying fully with those guidelines since the start of the public health crisis,” the DAA spokeswoman added.

Ferries

Irish Ferries said it is continuing to operate schedules linking Ireland to Britain and France, which play “a critical role in the supply chain, ensuring our supermarket shelves remain stocked and important pharmaceutical and medical supplies are shipped”.

“While these services are also available for essential travel, such as repatriation, travel for essential workers, or to care for loved ones or vulnerable relatives, the governments in Ireland, Britain and France have introduced restricted movement measures, and Irish Ferries is advising its passengers of the terms of these measures,” a spokesman for Irish Ferries said.

“Irish Ferries continues to adapt its procedures and services on board in accordance with published advice and guidance from relevant health authorities.”