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Ireland may add more countries to its high risk list

DUBLIN: Despite disagreements with the Department of Foreign Affairs and some Fine Gael ministers, the Department of Health has insisted on including more countries on the high-risk list.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney had criticized the health department for failing to hold a discussion on the issue. Yet Health Minister Stephen Donnelly refused to compromise.

26 countries have already been added to the list of 33 countries and one has been excluded. On Wednesday, the Travel Advisory Group will meet to finalize a list of high-risk countries. Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ronan Glynn will also attend the meeting.

According to senior government sources, the health minister will add more countries to the category two list in the coming weeks and will take steps to enforce mandatory hotel quarantine for visitors arriving from those countries.

It is expected that more countries will be included in the list, including Poland and the Netherlands. The dispute between the Department of Health and the Foreign Affairs came after public health officials recommended the inclusion of 43 countries (including the US, France, Germany and other EU countries) in the list.

It is expected that France will be included in the list in view of the dangerous threat posed by the new variant. Some Fine Gael ministers are strongly opposed to this.

Minister Donnally has the legal authority to add countries to the list without the approval of cabinet ministers. But the support of the Attorney General is needed in this matter. Attorney General Paul Gallagher last week criticized the legitimacy of the health minister’s decision.

A minister said there was “a strong view from the health experts that more need to be added and a real concern that we could see a repeat of Christmas, when Irish people came home and may have brought new variants with them.”

Meanwhile, Simon Coveney said that he does not think the legislation should be enforced in countries where large numbers of Irish people live. However, the Department of Health alleges that the problem is that the Foreign Minister does not have a proper understanding of the matter.

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