Northern Ireland news

Irish citizens 'safe to visit US' from November

A man in the arrivals hall of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport. Picture by Brian Lawless, Press Association

IRISH people will be safe to visit the US when travel between the two countries resumes in November, the US president's chief medical adviser has said.

Dr Anthony Fauci told RTÉ's This Week programme that even though the US has a very high infection rate, authorities are "starting to see the turning around of numbers of cases".

"I think the combination of the fact that it will be in November, and there will be a requirement for vaccination and testing, that it will be safe for people in Ireland to travel to the United States," he said.

Asked whether young unvaccinated children should travel, he said: "Everything has to be put into the context of what your ability is to take a finite risk.

"Everything is relative. Planes, given the filtering on board, are relatively safe. If you have children that come over from Ireland, we recommend that they wear masks in congregated settings."

The number of Covid deaths in the US last week surpassed the 675,000 people who died during the deadly 1918 flu pandemic.

Dr Fauci said more Americans must get vaccinated.

He said 70 million US people eligible for vaccination have not yet had their jabs.

"We could dramatically diminish the rate of infection if we got the majority of the population to accept vaccines," he said.

He said misinformation being spread on social media was a serious problem.

"It is quite disruptive to a public health effort that you want to be successful," he added.

Meanwhile, the mandatory hotel quarantine system in the Republic has ended.

At the peak of the system in May, people travelling from 60 countries had to complete mandatory hotel quarantine (MHQ) on arrival in the Republic.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced the end of the measure on Saturday.

However travellers must still abide by the relevant travel regulations including the requirement to have a pre-travel PCR test unless in possession of proof of vaccination or recovery. Some travellers are also still required to quarantine at home.

Travellers must complete a passenger locator form prior to their arrival in the Republic.

Mr Donnelly said the hotel quarantine system was introduced as an "exceptional public health measure" at a time of "very serious risk of importation of variants of concern that had the potential to overwhelm the health service".

"The successful operation of MHQ has played a central role in protecting the population, maintaining control of the disease and enabling the safe relaxation of restrictions on our economy and society," he said.

"Finally, I would like to thank the over 10,000 people who completed their period of quarantine in a designated facility and the many thousands more who completed home quarantine in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from the risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19."

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