India added to mandatory hotel quarantine list amid rise in coronavirus variant cases

Iran and Costa Rica among five countries added, as five other countries removed

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan had recommended that some European countries with high rates of Covid-19 be added to the list. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan had recommended that some European countries with high rates of Covid-19 be added to the list. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

 

India is among five countries added to Ireland’s mandatory hotel quarantine list amid a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases and fatalities there in recent weeks.

Georgia, Iran, Mongolia and Costa Rica have also been included on the revised list of countries deemed “high risk” for the virus or its variants , published on Friday. The list comes into effect on Tuesday.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “The Government continues to advise against all non-essential international travel at this time.

“Protecting public health remains the key priority of Government. The scenes we are witnessing in India are distressing and a devastating reminder to us all of the severe illness and death Covid-19 can cause.

“The Government will continue to act to protect the population from variants of concern and take decisions that reinforce Ireland’s biosecurity,” he said.

Five countries – Moldova; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba; San Marino; Monaco and the Wallis and Futuna Islands – were removed from the list.

Earlier this week Mr Donnelly confirmed that chief medical officer Tony Holohan had recommended that some European countries with high rates of Covid-19 be added to the list. Reports suggested this included Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

However, Mr Donnelly said that the Government took a decision to designate only European countries that had variants of concern.

He said that the advice from Dr Holohan had listed European countries that had high cases but not variants of concern.

Variants

Earlier on Friday, Mr Donnelly said that the number of cases of the more contagious South African variant of Covid-19 detected in Ireland has risen to 71.

He said 16 new cases of the variant have been reported in the last week with international travel and community transmission believed to be the reason for the spread.

He also outlined figures showing a rise in cases of the Indian and Brazilian variants.

There have now been eight cases of the Indian variant, up from the three reported by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) as of April 10th.

There have been three additional cases of the Brazilian P1 variant bringing the total number here to 27.

Mr Donnelly said have been 20 cases of a Nigerian variant, 15 of the Brazilian P2 variant, six of a New York variant and two cases of a Californian variant.

Some, like the South African variant and Brazilian P1 are considered variants of concern while others are categorised as variants of interest or note.

Mr Donnelly revealed the figures on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne show where it was put to him that the increase in the South African variant is worrying, given that the AstraZeneca vaccine has been found to be less effective against this version of the virus.

Mr Donnelly said such variants “are a concern”, noting that was why Ireland had brought in “robust protections” in relation to international travel.