Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.36 29 Jun 2020


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People need to 'think twice' about whether travelling abroad for holidays is worth the risk, a member of NPHET has warned.

Professor Philip Nolan says the very clear advice to the public is to avoid all non-essential travel - and people need to consider "luxury versus necessity".

Last week, the previous government said travel restrictions for people travelling to some countries are to be eased from July 9th - including a 'green list' of countries considered safe to travel to.

However, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said he is ‘beyond nervous’ about any increase in foreign travel.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly yesterday said the list may not be ready for July 9th.

Philip Nolan, chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group and president of Maynooth University, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast.

People need to consider whether holidays abroad are 'worth the risk' - Philip Nolan

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He said: "Unfortunately, in some other countries the level of the virus is higher than it is here - and in some other countries its rising.

"It represents a real risk to us, if people were to travel unless it's absolutely necessary... and then re-import the disease into the country.

"It [could] be a very significant burden on the public health system, the hospital system, and a very grave risk to people in our society who are vulnerable."

'Luxury versus necessity'

Prof Nolan said the "very firm" Government advice right now is to avoid all non-essential travel, and that he is simply reiterating that advice.

He said a green list is something to go about "very carefully", and that the focus should initially be on who needs to travel as restrictions are eased.

He observed: "[We] should think about this issue of luxury versus necessity.

"Deciding that we simply want an international holiday is an utterly different matter than someone wanting to visit their family in Spain, Italy or Ireland.

"If [travel] carries a risk of transmitting the virus back into Ireland or from Ireland into another low prevalence country... then we really need to think about this year, 2020, whether we really need to do that."

He suggested people considering travelling for luxury should "think twice if it's worth the risk - particularly if it's worth the risk to others."

He noted: "It's not really for me to advice people on the commercial transaction of booking a holiday or not booking a holiday.

"I haven't done it - the advice to me as a citizen from the Government has been very clear."

Main image: Pictured Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group Professor Philip Nolan. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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