Chief medical officer of Ireland, Dr. Tony Holohan advised people not to travel home to the country for Christmas due to the threat posed by Covid-19. After National Public Health Emergency Team briefing on Thursday evening, he said that “Travel that would normally happen at Christmas would have to be regarded as non-essential this Christmas.”
Nphet reported a further 395 cases of Covid-19 and one related death on Thursday. A total of 66,632 cases have been recorded in Ireland since the pandemic began, and a total of 1,965 deaths from the disease have been confirmed. About one-third of the latest cases,132, were in Dublin with 31 in Cork, 27 in Donegal, 27 in Limerick, and 27 in Galway. The remaining cases spread across 18 counties. The department said that as of 2 pm on Thursday, a total of 279 Covid-19 patients were in hospitals across the State, out of which 39 people required intensive care.
The National Public Health Emergency Team is a group within Ireland’s Department of Health. According to former Minister for Health, Simon Harris, it is currently “overseeing and providing direction and expert advice across the health service and the wider public service, on the national response to” coronavirus disease. It was created on 27th January 2020 and started monitoring the virus’s spread even before it was confirmed to have reached Ireland.
Dr.Holohan said he was concerned about the picture in the rest of Europe due to the surging number of coronavirus cases in many countries. Many of the countries affected are ones that Ireland has a close travel relationship with. Thus, the importation of cases was one of the most significant risks of the hour, he said.
“People potentially coming back for the Christmas period are experiencing a much higher level of infection. That will be one of the most significant risks for us if we make progress we hope to make,” The Irish Times quoted him saying.
Ireland now has the second-lowest incidence of the virus in Europe, behind Finland, according to deputy chief medical officer Dr. Desmond Hickey. While case numbers are declining only in four European countries over the past two weeks, Ireland has recorded the biggest drop in incidence, at 53 percent. Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had advised Irish people abroad not to book flights home for Christmas. He said it “was too soon” to know if it will be safe for Irish people to come home for the festive season.