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Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fully vaccinated people can travel abroad without PCR test from July 19th, says CMO

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has stated that people who are either fully vaccinated or have had Covid-19 in the last nine months are permitted to travel abroad from the 19th of July without the requirement of a PCR test.

An individual will need to have had two doses of a vaccine or one dose if it’s the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those who have not been vaccinated will have to undergo a PCR test.

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This comes as the EU Digital Certificate for travel will allow people to travel within member states from the 19th of July.

Uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant has left authorities unable to determine if there will be any change to the new quarantine rules for people arriving from the UK, with Holohan saying, “It is impossible to say where they will be in five weeks time,”.

At the Oireachtas transport committee, Holohan was presented with questions regarding international travel and if antigen tests would be used, Holohan replied that the PCR test remains the “gold standard diagnostic test” for Covid-19 and that antigen tests will be considered in some scenarios but should not be used as of yet. Holohan added that he would be open to a pilot study being carried out to measure their impact on people taking airline flights.

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According to the committee chairman Kieran O’Donnell, the committee will be following up on the proposed pilot study that will be involving antigen tests, with Holohan describing public health measures and vaccines as the safest way to reopen.

Holohan said that a real-world evaluation was needed for antigen testing and that they are willing to support its use if it’s indicated that it can bring further benefit to the pandemic response.

HSE lead on infection control Martin Cormican stated that nobody is for or against antigen testing but that it’s about using a specific tool for the job at hand while adding that in an airport you are filtering a flow of people to which the PCR test will do a better job at.

Holohan also said that he anticipates larger capacities at football matches next month without the use of an antigen test or anything else due to the disease incidence and the rise in people getting vaccinated.

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