That Dáil Éireann resolves that the relevant period, within the meaning of section 9 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2021 (No. 1 of 2021), shall stand extended for the period beginning on the 1st day of August, 2021 and ending on the 31st day of October, 2021.
On behalf of the Minister for Health, I propose a motion to extend the Health (Amendment) Act 2021, which provides for mandatory hotel quarantine, to 31 October 2021. The Act contains a sunset clause at section 9 and unless extended by a resolution, passed by each House of the Oireachtas before 31 July 2021, it will lapse on that date.
The Act allows for the extension of up to a maximum of three months. This would be the second extension. It has already been extended once, from 8 June 2021 to 31 July 2021. The Act requires travellers, who in the 14 days prior to their arrival in Ireland have been in one or more designated states, to quarantine in a designated facility for 14 days. The quarantine period is reduced if a negative Covid-19 test is returned after ten days. Those who do not present evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival are required to quarantine in a designated facility until they return a negative test. A number of exemptions from the obligation to quarantine are in place, including for those who have received a full course vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency, EMA.
Mandatory hotel quarantine has been in operation since the 26 March 2021. It is an exceptional and temporary measure. It continues to be an important safeguard in managing the risk of importation of cases and variants of concern. A single-service provider is providing full-board accommodation service to guests in facilities, designated exclusively for the purpose of quarantine, as well as ground transportation, security services, and health and well-being services for guests within its facilities.
The provision of the Act allows travellers to request a review of decisions related to their quarantine. This can only be undertaken once quarantine has begun and on a limited number of grounds. Reviews are conducted by independent appeals officers. A seven-day week service is provided. Decisions must be returned within 24 hours of receipt of the request for review. Requests for review are based on specific grounds established in the law. Notice of rights and obligations is provided to passengers on arrival in the State, usually by the first team to encounter relevant passengers. This notice is also available on the Government quarantine information page.
The Department of Health has begun to issue the mandatory hotel quarantine experience survey to recent residents. This will be an ongoing process that will help ensure the quality of the service being delivered. Medical services are available on site 24-7. It is also possible for a person to leave quarantine in the case of medical emergency and to attend urgent medical appointments. Special arrangements have been made to allow those seeking international protection or unaccompanied minors to undertake their quarantine in alternative appropriate circumstances.
There is a strong case for the continuation of mandatory hotel quarantine until the 31 October 2021. From December 2020 to 15 May 2021, 93 travel-related outbreaks and 327 cases were recorded. These were linked to 30 countries. There were 39 further travel-related outbreaks linked to 132 cases reported to the public health department in June 2021. Up to 12 July 2021, 8,395 people have quarantined in designated facilities. Of these residents, 376 have tested positive for Covid-19. Experience has shown that had those persons not been quarantined, a significant number of additional cases in the community would have resulted.
From March to June 2021, of the samples suitable for whole genome sequencing, the Alpha variant was detected in 30.1% of cases. Beta or Gamma was detected in 24.7% of the cases, while Delta or Kappa was detected in 8.2% in travellers from 35 countries. Without mandatory hotel quarantine, there is a risk that new variants could be imported and would not be identified. In addition, many countries have been unable to adequately monitor new variants, which adds to the risk of circulation.
Mandatory hotel quarantine is creating space for the continued great progress of our vaccination programme. We can be proud that more than 4.73 million vaccine doses have been administered, despite the significant challenges of the HSE cyberattack. As of 13 July, more than 2.6 million people had received a first dose, with more than 2 million fully vaccinated. This means that in excess of 71% of the eligible population has received a first dose, while more than 56% have been fully vaccinated.
Currently, 61 states have been designated by a risk assessment in respect of Covid incidence rates and variants of concern. However, following consideration of the predominance of the Delta variant in Ireland, the progress of our vaccination programme and the Government's commitment to aligning with the EU approach, a review of the list of designated states is under way.