Foreign travel is too risky, warn experts

Airport terminal - experts say foreign holidays are too risky

Travelling abroad is too risky at the moment, warns a microbial diseases expert.

Professor Paddy Mallon, Professor of Microbial Diseases in St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin, said it is not only a risk to people who travel but also a risk to Ireland.

And he warns that no matter how well Ireland tackles Covid-19, travelers could end up “importing” it back here.

“We are going to be looking at resurgence in a number of cases. It is going to be driven by reintroduction of the infection into the country from people bringing it into the country. This is perceived to be a major threat."

He added: “If we could limit the impact of imported cases, we could keep on the trajectory that we are on for as long as we can.”

He said he thinks that the Green lists or 'air bridge' systems being proposed to open up air travel between countries with low Covid-19 incidents are "going to be tricky".

Speaking on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Sarah McInerney, he spelled out a variety of risks people face. He said that if the number of cases in the countries people travel to was to increase, there is a risk they might not be able to get out of the country and end up quarantined when they return.

And as well as a risk people could get sick while away, there is also the risk that people might not be covered by their insurance: “So if we take a big list of priorities of what we need to do over the next four to six weeks in the country, international leisure travel is probably pretty far down the list."

I think what we really need to be doing is focusing on is reopening our economy safely. That would be the priority for me rather than focussing on overseas leisure travel which carries with it a significant risk to the person but also to the country.

Earlier in the day, Professor Philip Nolan urged people to think twice before travelling.

The chairman of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group for the National Public Health Emergency Team warned: “If the virus was brought back into the country it could be a very significant burden on the public health system, the hospital system, and a very grave risk to people in our society who are vulnerable.”