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under consideration Hope for Irish holidaymakers as 'digital green passes' proposed by EU

EU President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday the EU-wide 'Digital Green Pass' could be a first step towards a vaccine passport for travel by those who have had the jab.

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Passengers at Dublin Airport (Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

Passengers at Dublin Airport (Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

Passengers at Dublin Airport (Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin)

IRELAND is to take part in discussions on proposals by the EU to create a coronavirus vaccine passport which it is hoped could allow people travel for a holiday or work, it emerged last night.

EU President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday the EU-wide 'Digital Green Pass' would be proposed this month and that it could be a first step towards a vaccine passport for travel by those who have had the jab.

She said: "The Digital Green Pass should facilitate Europeans' lives.

The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the EU or abroad - for work or tourism."

Asked about the proposal last night deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: "It is something that requires consideration. It is under consideration. We will engage with colleagues about it in the coming weeks."

It emerged the Government is to suspend all inward visas for travellers from its red list of countries requiring mandatory quarantining on arrival.

The move, to be debated at Cabinet today, is intended to reduce the risk of new variants of Covid-19 entering Ireland.

Visa-free travel to Ireland for nationals of South Africa and all countries in South America had previously been suspended, but visa holders were allowed travel.

The move means nationals of these countries cannot arrive into Ireland without a visa, while visa applications will be denied.

Only Irish nationals can return home, along with citizens of the EU.

Separately, Dr Glynn said that around 80pc of the population are expected to have had a first dose of vaccine by the end of June.

He said that hopefully we were not far away from the point where we can have much less focus on social restriction - but he also expected some public health measures will be in place at the end of the year.

Although case numbers remain high with another 687 reported yesterday there is an ongoing fall in the spread of the virus as well as admissions to hospital and intensive care.

However, it will take five or six weeks to drive cases down to 200 to 400 cases a day at the current reduction rate of 2pc.

Dr Glynn said that public health teams "will have a difficult few weeks ahead" but he was confident it would be a success again.

Prof Philip Nolan told the Covid-19 briefing that there is no inevitability the reopening of schools will halt progress being made in reducing the spread of the virus as long as it is handled correctly.

He said transmission from child to child or "child to adult is rare".

A further Covid-related death was reported yesterday but fatalities are falling.

In recent weeks, deaths have dropped from an average of 50 a day to 26 a day.

There were 540 patients with the virus in hospital yesterday and 120 in intensive care. No new patient was admitted to intensive care in the previous 24 hours.

This was the first time there was no new admission to intensive care since St Stephen's Day.

The fall in the positivity rate - the number of people sent for testing who are positive - is proving particularly hopeful.

Prof Pete Lunn, head of the ESRI's Behavioural Research Unit, said half the adult population does not meet up with anyone outside their household over a 48-hour period, with less than a quarter meeting up with three or more.

Yet these more socially active people believe that they are meeting fewer people than average.

While people are finding it tough going, the large majority (79pc) believe that preventing the spread of Covid-19 is more important than the ­burden of restrictions. Just 10pc ­disagree.


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