There has been a significant increase in the percentage of Covid-19 cases in Ireland which have come from international travel, the country’s health minister has said.
Stephen Donnelly said that in the last few months, about 2% of new cases came from international travel and that had “gone up to 17% in the last week”.
He was talking about the issue of so-called travel airbridges.
From Wednesday, EU borders will be reopened to 15 non-EU countries.
However, Mr Donnelly told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland programme that “the claim that Europe is moving ahead and Ireland is a laggard” was wrong.
“Actually each country is doing things very differently,” he said, pointing to the fact that Denmark, Austria and Finland had different rules.
He said public health experts have “a real concern” about the possibility of a second wave of the virus if there is an increase in foreign travel.
It comes as it emerged that cluster cases in private households in the Republic of Ireland have increased.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre report for 28 June showed that there were 728 cases in private houses compared to 390 on 21 June.
Northern Ireland ‘Overseas travel serious concern’
“There is a real concern that the public health experts have about a second wave if we see a big increase in foreign travel,” Mr Donnelly told the programme.
“The international situation was always quite volatile but has become increasingly volatile in the last few weeks,” he added.
“We have a fantastic advantage being an island,” he said.
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“International travel and overseas travel is a more serious concern for us than others.”
He said the government would be considering what was “best for Ireland”.
He acknowledged that travel was a “pressing issue for an awful lot of people” who had booked holidays and he would be taking that “very seriously”.
He said the Irish government still plans to publish a “green” list of countries on 9 July.
“There may be a recommendation to cabinet [when it meets on Monday] that that might change,” he said.
He said it was “largely correct” that the main concern was not about being in transit, but about going to another country and coming back.
“In fairness to the airlines, it looks like they have taken an awful lot of steps so that they are complying with the EU regulations, but what the public health officials would say is, there is no zero risk,” he added.
On Thursday, the Republic’s Department of Health announced that a further five people who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 had died, bringing the total to 1,738.
An additional 15 cases of the virus were confirmed.
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