Government to consider stricter regime for inward-bound travellers

Past two weeks have seen 1,500 arrivals from Brazil where there is a new strain of Covid-19

The Government will consider implementing a stricter regime for inwardbound travellers amid growing concern about new strains of the coronavirus.

There have been 1,500 arrivals from Brazil in the past two weeks and those travellers have now been asked by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to contact a GP, get a coronavirus test and restrict their movements.

Government sources have said that Ministers will this week discuss all aspects of travel regulations in light of concerns about new Covid-19 strains from the UK, South Africa and Brazil.

Sources have said that while it would be legally complex, they cannot rule out implementing a stricter regime on inward-bound travellers to make it mandatory to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel.

It comes as officials in Britain have been told to prepare for the creation of “quarantine hotels” for those arriving into the country. This is similar to the “managed isolation” requirement in New Zealand.

Variants of Covid-19 that originated in the UK (known as B117) and South Africa (B1351) have been found in the Republic.

Variants originating in Brazil (P1), but not yet detected in Ireland, have also emerged and a Nigerian variant also exists.

Mr Donnelly’s call comes a week after the State imposed restrictions on travellers from the UK and South Africa, requiring a negative PCR test result 72 hours before travel.

A similar obligation for arrivals from all other countries came into effect on Saturday.

The UK variant has, within a matter of weeks of discovery, emerged as a significant strain in the Republic.

A further 13 deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Sunday, along with 2,944 confirmed cases of the disease.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, the deaths of another 25 people with Covid-19 were confirmed on Sunday, with a further 822 cases of the virus.