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NI Health Department urges patience on Covid ‘passports’ blaming changing entry requirements for delays


There has been frustration over the travel scheme. Pic PA

There has been frustration over the travel scheme. Pic PA

There has been frustration over the travel scheme. Pic PA

The Department of Health has urged the public to be patient with its temporary Covid ‘passport’ scheme. 

It blamed changing entry requirements of other countries which was beyond its control. 

The public have been asked to only use the system if travelling in the coming days and use the online portal as opposed to contacting its helpline.

It comes as another 1,300 cases of the virus were reported on Friday along with another death. 

An online certificate scheme was introduced on Tuesday, July 20 to cover those going abroad up until this Sunday.

Have you been affected? Contact our news team on newseditor@belfasttelegraph.co.uk.

The temporary measure is to be replaced with a new app on Monday, however, many have complained of issues around the need for ID checks and scanning passports.

Although a paper version of the certificate is available, it can take up to 10 days to process.

The Department of Health has said the scheme is facing extreme pressure. 

“We are aware that some users are experiencing difficulties and we are working at pace to find a resolution to these issues,” a statement said. 

"We are reacting to changing entry requirements being imposed by countries which may impact travellers. These changes are outside our control but we are committed to finding solutions that are workable for all.”

The department said the system was transitioning to the planned Covid Certification Service (CSS) and the new App would launch shortly.

"Some travellers may still require assistance in the immediate term and we will continue working through those requests,” the statement added.

“Those who are not travelling within the next few days should please avoid blocking the helpline, for those with more pressing needs. We would also remind the public that staff working on the helpline are doing their best to help them. While frustration at delays is understandable, appropriate courtesy is more likely to be productive.

"The use of computer supported photo identification has helped to speed up the vaccine certification process but this process relies on each photograph meeting a specific set of criteria. Please ensure you are familiar with that criteria or your photograph/application may be rejected. We are in the process of updating the user screens to give more detailed information to help advise you on the process.

"Where possible, the public are asked to use the digital platform and not the telephone helpline. The telephone helpline is available for those who do not have access to the digital platform. Call handlers can only deal with certification issues. They cannot provide advice on country entry requirements or any other queries not relating to vaccine certification.”

Meanwhile, the latest figures show another 1,337 new cases reported and another death taking the toll to 2,167. 

In the past seven days there has been 9,393 new cases compared to 5,502 the previous week 

It means over 146,000 have had the virus since testing began. 

There are 163 people in hospital with 16 in intensive care, up from 10 on Wednesday. Eight people were admitted to hospital on Thursday. 

Hospital occupancy is at 102% with five sites over capacity. There are 52 care homes dealing with an outbreak. 

So far over 2.1m have received a vaccine. Over 4,000 first and second doses were made on Thursday. 

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