Half of travel-related Covid cases in early July were attributed to the Iberian Peninsula

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More than half of all travel-related Covid-19 cases in the two weeks leading up to July 13 are likely to have contracted the virus while visiting the Iberian Peninsula, new data from the Health Service Executive shows (HSE).

Travel abroad is now the second most important source of infection after mixing in private households and ahead of other social activities, as the government prepares to allow the resumption of overseas travel from tomorrow, Monday July 19.

The Foreign Ministry’s standing advice so far has been to “avoid non-essential travel”, but that changes to “travel safely and in accordance with public health guidelines and restrictions” next week.

New HSE data shows that out of a total of 7,468 new cases of Covid-19 during the two-week period June 30 to July 13, 984 had a travel history in the previous 14 days, which equates to just over 13%. .

A significant number of these cases were reported in the Iberian Peninsula, with 385 in Spain (39%) and 131 in Portugal (13%).

The second highest country on the list was England, as 129 infected people told contact tracers they had been there in the previous two weeks. Next come Germany (34), Qatar (33), the Netherlands (29), Scotland (26) and Poland (23).

The number of positive cases linked to overseas travel has risen in recent weeks amid repeated calls by the national public health emergency team for people to wait to be fully immunized before traveling.

“The tracers told me that lately there are more thefts, [and] more travel-related cases, ”Niamh O’Beirne, HSE contact tracing manager, said over the weekend.

“Close contact related to theft is now our second largest form of close contact after household.

“Travel has obviously increased. Most cases come from countries with a high prevalence, but also from countries where the Irish go in greater numbers. Spain is bigger than Portugal, quite substantially.

Ms O’Beirne said that while it is “never 100% possible” to fully determine a source of infection, the dominant school of thought is that cases with a history of travel have likely contracted the virus from abroad or in transit.

Out of a total of 7,468 new cases of Covid-19 in the Republic during the two-week period from June 30 to July 13, there were 984 with a travel history in the previous 14 days.

“It’s not an exact science, but the fact that you were overseas and tested positive shortly thereafter is ultimately a travel-related case,” she said. “People will tell trackers on the phone that the flights are busy and that the airports are busy in some of these places. “

Close contacts

Ms O’Beirne said 14,700 close contacts had been reported in the past seven days. Of these, 3,409 were travel-related, equivalent to 23%. It was right behind households and in front of social contacts.

Close contacts related to travel and social activities were previously “low on the list,” Ms. O’Beirne said, “but obviously with daylight saving time and opening up they’ve gotten higher.” The positivity rate among close contacts on flights over the past week was 3.8%.

Along with the resumption of overseas travel from Monday, 34 states were removed from the mandatory hotel quarantine list. There are now 29 countries on the list, with the addition of Cuba – starting at 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, European governments, wary of dramatic spikes in Covid-19 cases as the Delta variant rises especially in unvaccinated people, have tightened travel rules and sought to step up jabs to limit infections.

The Netherlands and the French region of Perpignan saw infections increase by more than 500% in one week, which led authorities to withdraw summer reopening measures.

Cyprus, the Netherlands, Spain and the Greek island of Crete all turned red on the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control’s Covid-19 map, reflecting a resumption of infections across the continent after a period of decline.


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