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Call center that opened to answer queries regarding Digital Covid Cert received 4,000 calls on first day

DUBLIN: The Irish government started issuing EU Digital COVID Certificates to those who have been fully vaccinated in Ireland on Monday. Of the 1.9 million certificates to be sent, 984,000 have so far been issued by email and over 350,000 by post. The EU DCC, which allows fully vaccinated people and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19, will go into effect in Ireland on Monday, July 19th.

A temporary call center comprising 25-30 operators was opened on Monday for people with questions related to their DCC. Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said that the national call centre, which is run by Revenue and Welfare, will be fully operational by July 19th, with 60-90 operators handling all aspects of the system.

Giving details of the temporary call center, Minister of State for eGovernment Ossian Smyth said the call center number is on the cover letter that people receive with their DCC. Minister Smyth reminded people to contact if they have “some emergency problem rather than having to be pushed up the list or just general questions”.  

“I think they’ve been getting 4,000 calls a day, I’m told, and they have 25 to 30 agents manning the phones. Next Monday it is increasing significantly that call centre will deal with regular issues like reissuing certificates, if you’ve lost your certificate or other problems like that,” she said.

Interactive Voice Message

People who call the call centre will initially receive an Interactive Voice Message (IVR) that will provide them with the information they needed rather than having to wait to speak with an operator.

Government Chief Information Officer Barry Lowry said that most of the people who called on Monday did not stay on the line to speak with an operator, but instead listened to the IVR.

“We’re hoping that that’s a sign that actually the IVR give them the information they wanted rather than they got fed up waiting,” he said. Some 1200 people waited on the line to speak with an operator.

However, some callers had to wait nearly 30 minutes to speak with an operator, and a couple of them reported that the initial IVR message provided no relevant information other than the government website.

It is understood that the IVR message tells callers that information is available on the gov.ie website and that DCC are now being issued by email and post. It also notifies callers that the helpline prioritise calls from people who want to travel in July.

Fast rollout

Minister Ossian Smyth the government is “ahead of schedule” in the sending of DCCs by email. About a million DCCs were to be sent via email and about 900,000 via letter, the Minister said.

Those who were vaccinated through the HSE’s online registration portal will receive their DCC through email, while those who were vaccinated through a GP or pharmacy would most likely receive their certificate in the post.

Revenue is sending about 50,000-70,000 certs in letters per day, and this number is expected to increase over the weekend. According to Barry Lowry, 90% of the 900,000 letters will be received by next Monday.

Meanwhile, Smith said that 7,500 of the 984,000 DCCs sent via email so far have been returned. He said the bounce rate is low (0.76%) and that those people will most likely have to call the call center to get their certificate.

“When you have a database of emails and more than 99% of them are delivering, that’s an incredibly high quality dataset,” he said.

“I’m really happy with that bounce rate, it does mean that those people, 7,500 people, presumably will be contacting the call centre looking for a reissue and we will facilitate them in that way.”

Those who are due to get fully vaccinated in the coming days will receive their DCCs between 1-4 working days thereafter.

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