So Who is Telling the Truth here?

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Coronavirus in Ireland: No spike in cases after Dublin street parties

Aoife O’Brien Wednesday June 09 2021, 12.01am BST, The Times Dublin Ireland

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan described the
                  scenes in Dublin as being like a major open-air party
Chief medical officer Tony Holohan described the scenes in Dublin as being like a major open-air party NIALL CARSON/PA

The “open-air party” scenes in Dublin city centre which were criticised by the chief medical officer have not resulted in a spike in Covid-19 cases, a specialist has said.

Health officials yesterday reported 271 new cases of the virus, the second lowest daily figure this year. It came ten days after hundreds of people gathered in South William Street for outdoor socialising.

Anthony Staines, professor of public health systems at Dublin City University, said that if the large crowds were going to cause an increase in cases, it would have happened by now.

“For most people, the time from getting infected to the case turning up in the system is something like five or six days, so yes you would expect to see it by now,” he said.

“We know from studies all over the world that outdoor gatherings are a lot safer than indoor gatherings. You have to be somewhat unlucky to get infected outdoors.”

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, had criticised the large numbers of people socialising in the city centre.

Holohan said on Twitter: “Absolutely shocked at scenes in South Great George’s St, Exchequer St, South William St area. Enormous crowds — like a major open-air party. This is what we do not need when we have made so much progress.”

Staines said: “Tony should not have attacked it with the strength that he did.”

He added: “Is it ideal that you have a very large number of people close together in a street in a pandemic? It is not ideal, but it is not a very high-risk situation either.”

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Large crowds gathered in the city centre again over the bank holiday weekend, but Staines said this is also unlikely to affect case numbers.

It comes as Ireland took another step back towards normality on Monday with the hospitality sector reopening for outdoor dining. Gyms, swimming pools, cinemas, theatres, and outdoor amusement parks also reopened to the public.

Under the new guidelines an unvaccinated household can now have visitors from one other unvaccinated household inside their home. The number of people allowed to attend a wedding has increased to 25, while 100 people can attend organised outdoor events such as sports matches.

Non-essential international travel will resume from next month with the government set to introduce the EU digital Covid certificate on July 19. The certificate, which will be available in both digital and paper formats, will allow people who have been vaccinated, have had Covid-19 in the past six months or have received a negative test result to travel freely around Europe.

Richard O’Donoghue, an independent TD from Limerick, said the government should provide free PCR tests.

“It costs about €150 to get a PCR test here in Ireland which is an absolute rip-off,” he said. “If people need to travel for whatever reason and they are being asked to pay these exorbitant prices, then people will turn to the black market.”

He added: “You could have people turning up to the airports with false paperwork. If criminals can make counterfeit money and they can take over the HSE computers, then they can create the paperwork for a PCR test.”

The Department of Health said it will not provide free PCR tests to international travellers this summer. To date nine EU countries, including Spain, Greece and Germany have begun issuing EU Covid health certificates.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has called for Ireland to follow suit and implement the travel cert as soon as possible.

The Department of Health said it will not provide free PCR tests to international travellers this summer. To date nine EU countries, including Spain, Greece and Germany have begun issuing EU Covid health certificates.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has called for Ireland to follow suit and implement the travel cert as soon as possible.

Pat Dawson, the ITAA chief executive, said: “It is noted that more than one million Europeans have received the new EU Covid-19 health certificate to date from the nine EU countries which are already issuing these documents. We are calling on the remaining member states, including Ireland, to follow suit.

The ITAA added that when the EU digital Covid cert is introduced in Ireland, people who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 should not have to quarantine or take a Covid-19 test.

It also said that the government should accept both PCR and rapid antigen tests, and that they should be “free” or “very affordable” for travellers.

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