HIQA advises the HSE that the minimum quarantine for passengers arriving in Ireland should not be increased

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published its advice to the Health Service Executive (HSE) on the potential impact of different testing scenarios and durations of mandatory home quarantine for people travelling to Ireland from non-designated countries (that is, countries for which hotel quarantine does not apply upon entering Ireland).

After traveling into Ireland from a non-designated country, passengers are required, by law, to quarantine at home for fourteen days. There is however an option to ‘test-out’ of quarantine by availing of a free RT-PCR test taken no less than five days after arrival and subject to receiving a negative or ‘not detected’ test result. HIQA has advised the HSE that the timing of this test should not be extended. HIQA found that extending the timing of testing beyond five days would only slightly reduce the risk of transmission, but would substantially increase the burden on passengers in terms of time spent in quarantine.

Dr Conor Teljeur, HIQA’s Chief Scientist, said: “The risk of importing variants in people travelling to Ireland is concerning. To manage this, we need information on the countries passengers travelled through before arriving in Ireland. By improving the content, accuracy and coverage of the Passenger Locator Form, it will be possible to better manage and monitor the current quarantine policy.”

There appears to be a low uptake of free post-arrival testing in passengers arriving in Ireland from non-designated states. HIQA has advised that better data collection on eligibility and uptake of post-travel tests, as well as data on adherence to quarantine, is needed to understand if the existing quarantine policy is effective.

Dr Teljeur continued: “Mandatory home quarantine was introduced in Ireland to minimise the risk of introducing SARS-CoV-2, including variants of concern, from overseas into our local communities. Coordination is needed across government departments and agencies to ensure the legal duty to quarantine is clearly communicated to passengers. Providing clear and consistent information on how and where to access free post-arrival testing could increase uptake and allow more passengers from non-designated states to exit quarantine early and, more importantly, safely.”

This advice is based on an evidence synthesis report, which included a modelling exercise, as well as input from the HIQA COVID-19 EAG.

You can find these documents here.

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