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Virus fears Variants of concern found among 56 Covid-19 Irish cases in hotel quarantine

It comes as the Government rejected fresh advice from the chief medical officer to add extra European and EU countries to the mandatory hotel quarantine list.

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

The Crowne Plaza in Dublin is on of the Tifco hotels used for quarantine

The Crowne Plaza in Dublin is on of the Tifco hotels used for quarantine

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Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Colin Keegan/ Collins Dublin

There have been 56 cases of Covid-19 detected in people staying in mandatory hotel quarantine since the system has been introduced.

This includes five people testing positive for variants of concern.

It comes as the Government rejected fresh advice from the chief medical officer to add extra European and EU countries to the mandatory hotel quarantine list.

The Cabinet was informed yesterday by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly that a number of non-EU countries including India, which has been hit with a major surge of the virus, are to be added to the hotel quarantine list.

Sources confirmed that Mozambique, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Mongolia, Iran and Costa Rica are among the countries that are also being added on the basis that they have a variant of concern.

However, the minister also informed Cabinet that Dr Tony Holohan advised that a number of other European countries, including EU member states, should be added to the list on the basis that they have an incidence rate of the virus that is two-and-a-half times that of Ireland.

Cabinet sources reported that the countries included on the list were Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Romania, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Liechtenstein.

A senior Government source confirmed that some European and EU countries were suggested for addition to the list, but these were not accepted by the Government.

Meanwhile, Irish people travelling to another EU state will be able to show a unique code on their mobile phone as part of the EU’s planned digital green certificate allowing foreign travel, Mr Donnelly has said.

The minister said officials here are working behind the scenes on the “passport” to allow foreign travel.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday, he said: “Technology is being worked on in the background and if an Irish citizen lands in Paris they will have a unique code on their phone.”

The same system would apply for EU citizens visiting this country.

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“Very significant work had been done in Ireland and we are looking favourably at participation in the digital green cert,” he said.

“If it works for those who are exempted it will enable free travel in a way not possible since the virus arrived.”

Responding to TD Cathal Crowe, who asked if Ireland will be at the same pace at other countries to have it place, he said the briefing he had was that Ireland was “on track” to have it in place at the same time as other EU member states.

The minister was before the committee on revised estimates for 2021 for his department, which include €4bn extra on the 2020 allocation amid the financial drain due to the demands of Covid-19.

He said he expected the estimated cost of mandatory hotel quarantine to now exceed the projected €7m. He said as further hotels were added the cost would increase.

The total cost of Covid-19 supports provided by the the Government to the health service last year was €2.5bn, covering areas such as testing and tracing, supporting nursing homes and homecare as well as caring for patients in hospital.

The ongoing financial pressures of the pandemic come as the plan to exit lockdown over May, June and July is being finalised by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

The daily number of virus cases remains high with 426 confirmed yesterday.

There were 10 additional deaths reported including four in April.

The number of patients in hospital stands at 153, including 47 who are seriously ill in intensive care.

Meanwhile, scientists have found an association between shift work and Covid-19 positivity rates in hospitalised patients.

Using data from UK Biobank the world’s largest biomedical database – shift work increased the likelihood of testing positive for Covid-19 in hospitalised patients two or three fold, depending on the nature of shift work.

The effect persisted even after controlling for known Covid-19 risk factors.

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Irish Independent


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