“Don’t Travel Unless You’re Vaccinated” – Dr Tony Holohan

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The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said that people should not travel abroad for a holiday, unless they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The CMO also added that NPHET want to see international travel resume as soon as possible, given how many people have received their Covid vaccine already.

The latest Government advise also indicates that travel restrictions are to begin easing by July 19.

This means that non-essential travel will be allowed, depending on public health advice.

“significant change in transmission” 

Dr Holohan did say that variants of the virus could still spread, especially if people travel to other countries before they have been vaccinated, and mix with other people who have not been vaccinated either.

The CMO also warned that if that does happen, the return of indoor dining and students to campus in September, could lead to a “significant change in transmission”.

Check out yesterday’s Covid briefing here.

Dr Holohan on Antigen testing

Regarding NPHET’S stance on Antigen testing, Holohan said that it should be used in many situations. He also said that they have offered advice on where it should be used including outbreak situations.

The CMO also said they have reccomended its use in meat processing facilities. He added that the HSE’s validation study had shown that it had missed around 50% of cases that were picked up by PCR testing where people are symptomatic.

Dr Holohan said the NPHET’s concern with Antigen testing was its use on people who show no Covid symptoms. He said that it might not be as effective as PCR testing. More on Antigen testing here.

“safely resume normal life”

Holohan’s comments come after the Department of Health confirmed that 54 patients are curently being treated for Covid-19 in hospital, with 18 in ICU.

“We are now experiencing near elimination of Covid-19 in the vaccinated population”, Dr Holohan said.

“For the 50-65s who are in the process of receiving protection from full vaccination, incidence is dropping”, he continued.

“Incidence is also reducing in most age groups”. This is “showing commendable compliance with health measures as the vaccination programme is rolled out to more and more people”.

He also added that those who are fully vaccinated can “safely resume normal life”.

Holohan said this means, “meeting other fully vaccinated people from up to two households indoors without masks or social distancing”. 

He also added that this means “meeting unvaccinated people from one other household indoors and without masks”. 

Holohan also urged people who are waiting for the vaccine, to continue to adhere to the public health guidelines. These include regular handwashing, managing contacts, avoiding crowds and wearing masks.