Micheal Martin has confirmed new rules for passengers arriving into Ireland from Great Britain amid ongoing fears of the Omicron variant becoming dominant here.
The Taoiseach sat down with Virgin Media’s Tonight Show host Claire Brock to discuss the current Covid-19 situation.
Among the topics of conversation were the concern around the new variant, as well as travel, new restrictions, and children’s vaccinations.
As of this evening, the government has issued new advice to people arriving in Ireland from the UK, that will see antigen tests being taken over a period of 5 days after landing.
The advice comes after six cases of the new strain have been confirmed in Ireland, and despite the high level of concern, the taoiseach said: “We are hearing so far that it does have an advantage over delta in terms of its infectiousness and its capacity to infect, but also, that it may be less severe in its impact, but we don’t know that for sure.”
He said the current booster rollout will provide effective protection for the population and will help in lowering the numbers in hospitals and in the ICU.
“I do know that they are now saying that the mRNA vaccines will give you protection against severe disease or illness from Omicron,” he explained.
“But that said, I think we do need more data and I think the key message really is that vaccination does help you in terms of avoiding severe illness, hospitalisation, or admission to ICU.”
In line with the current surge and the implementation of new travel advice, Mr. Martin said; “We are going to follow the EU approach but that said, we are saying to people coming in from Great Britain for example that you should now take five antigen tests within the five days after you arrive.”
The Taoiseach said that it will not be enforced by law but rather will be issued as advice and that all passengers “should exercise a very high degree of caution when you are travelling.”
He said “your vaccination status is important” and that “if You have the opportunity to get the booster before you travel and you should adopt a very cautious approach.”
It is understood that the tests will not have to be professionally administered, and if UK travellers develop any symptoms they will still be required to self-isolate.
He said: “We’re not going to stop Omicron, but we can try and delay it as best we can.”