Ireland should follow 'solid' advice of Holohan on overseas travel, WHO warns

ireland
Ireland Should Follow 'Solid' Advice Of Holohan On Overseas Travel, Who Warns
Dr David Nabarro said the public should “follow the leaders” with regard to public health issues such as travel and vaccination. Photo: Getty Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

Ireland should follow the “solid” advice of chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on overseas travel, the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s special envoy on Covid-19 has said.

Dr David Nabarro said the public should “follow the leaders” with regard to public health issues such as travel and vaccination.

It comes after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said young people who are not fully vaccinated can travel abroad from July, despite Dr Holohan’s advice to the contrary.

For now I would follow the solid advice of Dr Holohan and be quite careful about travel

“For now I would follow the solid advice of Dr Holohan and be quite careful about travel,” Dr Nabarro told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“Tony Holohan is such a cool guy, I like the way he and his team are working.”

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Mr Varadkar told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme on Sunday that the advice from Dr Holohan was “very clear” that people who are not fully vaccinated should not travel.

He said the advice was “totally right” from a scientific and medical perspective, but said the Government had decided to diverge from it because it considered it unfair to deny travel to those who had not yet been offered a vaccine.

New playing field

Dr Nabarro said that once the European Union’s digital Covid certificate for travel arrives, it will change the situation for travel and create “a new playing field”.

The sooner there are agreements between countries the easier it will be for people to make travel plans, so that making holiday plans will not be a lottery, he said.

However, Dr Nabarro warned that there would never be a situation where it could be said that overseas travel was without risk of Covid-19 or other illnesses.

He said he would be cautious about the use of the word “safe” when it came to travel.

The situation was rapidly changing he said, but for now, he felt the public should follow the advice of Dr Holohan.

It comes as a Government Minister has outlined the process by which people will be able to apply for a Covid certificate to travel abroad this summer, if they have been vaccinated, have recently recovered from the disease or have a negative PCR test.

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The chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, said this morning that those who are unvaccinated should carry out a "personal risk assessment" before travelling abroad this summer.

Antigen testing

Meanwhile, Dr Nabarro welcomed a recent report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) that indicated that the coronavirus was not easily transmitted on an airplane.

This was an example of how important the work of the ECDC was, he said, and while it did not look like the virus could be easily transmitted on a flight, the issue remained about what people did in a bar on holiday or in the airport.

The Delta variant was going to become the dominant variant, he added, but it would take time before it takes over from the current dominant variant. “That’s just the way things are.”

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When asked about antigen testing, Dr Nabarro said it was not as reliable as PCR tests, if it was it would be used as an alternative but “we're not there yet.”

It remained a concern that antigen testing was not as sensitive as PCR testing, but it was up to each Government to decide its position on the use of such tests, he said.

On the issue of booster vaccinations, Dr Nabarro said it was “pretty likely” that they would be needed and would become part of the plan of “constant readiness.”

“It will be part of the way to keep ourselves safe.”

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