Following Tuesday’s confirmation that two Irish dual-citizens have tested positive for coronavirus in Japan, it has since emerged that two other Irish citizens on board another recently quarantined cruise ship returned home to Ireland without being screened on entry.
Having left Westerdam cruise ship just before it was quarantined off the Cambodian coast, the unscreened travellers returned to Ireland last weekend, and, although not thought to be carrying the virus, the episode has raised questions about the country’s preparedness for preventing the outbreak from reaching Irish shores.
The state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan told reporters yesterday that “entry screening” for travellers to Ireland “doesn’t work, wouldn’t work” and would be a “waste of resources.”
“And to test people who are asymptomatic is also something that wouldn’t be part of our protocols,” Holohan said, rejecting as ineffective the screening of inbound travellers for high temperatures.
Holohan recommended that people attend their GP if they are coming from high-risk areas, and indicated that tests would only be conducted if someone showed specific symptoms. Ireland has so far had no positive cases of the virus.
“78 people so far have been the subject of that assessment and have been put into those kind of arrangements where testing has been done, and that testing has turned out negative in each of the cases so far”, Holohan said.
A total of six Irish citizens have been repatriated from Wuhan to Ireland since the outbreak, whilst the two confirmed Irish cases were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been docked in Yokohama, Japan since February 3.
Two Japanese citizens who were aboard the Diamond Princess have since died of coronavirus. The condition of the two Irish citizens, who are not normally resident in Ireland, is unknown.