Christmas home arrivals around the country’s airports are now in doubt as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned of the risks Covid-19’s international travel is still “very significant” at the moment.
Dr. Holohan also warned parents about the risks of children from different families joining in for Halloween parties.
Asked about people traveling home for Christmas and families in different countries coming together for the holiday season, he said he had not yet received any special attention from his team.
“Our advice is that the risk of non-essential travel outside this country is simply too high at this time.”
The number of Covid-19 travel-related cases here is now very small and the Government has committed itself to entering the EU traffic light system for travel to Europe. But details of how it will work here, especially with regard to testing, remain unclear.
Asked about Halloween parties, he said “these things will not be possible this year”.
This is happening at a time when the management of Dublin Airport today raises the issue of New Year’s homes of the Transport Committee in Oireachtas.
Calle called for a pre-departure test regime, saying: “We want to welcome our loved ones safely and allow the reunification of those who live here and who have not seen families abroad.”
Yesterday there were five more deaths from Covid-19 and an additional 720 cases, indicating some control over the spread of the virus can now return after last week when the daily cases were higher than 1,000.
Dr Holohan said it was too early to say “we turned a corner”.
He said: “We can definitely not conclude that there is a trend of fewer cases.”
So far this month, there have been 79 deaths related to Covid and 32 were among the residents of a nursing home. This is in contrast to the 35 deaths in September and five deaths in August.
Among yesterday’s new cases, 228 were in Dublin, 130 in Cork, 47 in Galway, 31 in Mitt, 27 in Limerick. The remaining 257 cases were spread across 20 counties.
As of 2 p.m. today, the number of hospitalized patients Covid-19 dropped slightly to 341, of which 38 are in intensive care.
There have been 29 additional hospitalizations in the past 24 hours, but the pattern in the second phase of the virus appears to be a better flow of patients with a significant number also discharged.
Elderly patients are still at greater risk of being admitted to hospital.
The highest fourteen-day incidence was in Cavan, but this is declining. They are followed by Mitt, Sligo, Westmith, Galway, Monaghan, Cork and Donegal.
Tippers, Wicklow and Kilkenny have the lowest rates.
Dr Holohan said the evidence was that Level 3 stabilized the spread of Covid-19 when it was implemented, but did not suppress it.
This is significant because if cases escalate again – once this lock is complete – it may mean that the strictest restrictions may have to be invoked to get it back under control.
Asked about the testing and tracing system at HSE, Dr Holohan said it was very robust despite a recent fiasco that led to 2,000 people found to have the virus to make their mark.
Asked about recent research showing that only 55 pieces would receive the Covid-19 vaccine if available, he said it would be worrying if a significant number of people vulnerable to the virus did not choose to be immunized.
Asked about plans to release the vaccine if approved by a health ministry spokesman, he said a Covid-19 immunization strategy group had been convened. It currently meets every 3 weeks. The group is currently developing a plan for the Covid-19 immunization program. This includes developing a communication campaign, which will start before the immunization program.