Ireland’s chief medical officer has discouraged international travel ahead of Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Tony Holohan said while many may want to come home to Ireland to spend Christmas with their loved ones, now is “not the time for international travel”.
“That’s the responsible public health message,” he told the National Public Health Emergency Team press briefing on Monday.
“Now is not the time, we have good reason to be hopeful about the position we find ourselves in.
“We as a country have been able to bring the virus down to levels of transmission much lower than other countries in Europe.
“We have a number of vaccines now and active preparations for the introduction of those vaccines happening, over the course of the coming weeks and months we’ll see those being elaborated and hopefully significant numbers of people being vaccinated into 2021.
“If we can manage to keep things under control, we can prevent a surge in infection that will lead to hospitalisations, it will lead to admissions to intensive care and may well lead to the deaths of people whose lives could be protected.”
Our intentions are to have plans in place to enable those vaccines to be given to people pretty much as soon as they arriveDr Tony Holohan
Asked about the future rollout of vaccines, Dr Holohan said the first authorisation by the European Medicines Agency of a vaccine is not anticipated before December 29.
“Other authorisations are unlikely to happen in 2020,” he said.
“Our expectation is that supplies of vaccines might follow in short order after authorisation at a European level to the individual member states, of which we’ll be one.
“Our intentions are to have plans in place to enable those vaccines to be given to people pretty much as soon as they arrive.”
Dr Holohan said vaccines would be given to the public in a “prioritised way”.
“The vaccine taskforce is charged with presenting government with a plan to enable government to roll out vaccine.
Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) December 7, 2020
There have been no new deaths reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre @hpscireland today.
There has been a total of 2,099 #COVID19 related deaths in Ireland.
“That plan is due to be finalised in central government at the end of this week,” he said.
“Plans are at a very advanced stage but they have to be considered by government and approved before they can be published. Prioritisation will be set out in that plan.”
No further Covid-19 related deaths were reported in Ireland on Monday, leaving the national toll at 2,099.
However, a further 242 confirmed cases of the virus were announced by NPHET.
Of the latest cases, 76 were in Dublin, 27 in Donegal, 22 in Kilkenny, 16 in Galway, 14 in Louth and the remaining 87 were spread across 18 other counties.
As of 2pm on Monday, there were 223 patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals, of whom 28 were in ICU.