An online portal for people to apply for Covid-19 recovery certificates is expected to be up and running later this week.
Liz Canavan, Deputy Secretary of the Taoiseach Department, informed the Dáil Health Committee this morning that the call center set up to help people looking for their EU Covid Digital Certificate (DCC) was overwhelmed with calls and the center was unable to meet the level of demand.
She said: “This far exceeds estimates of call center demand based on an assessment of travel bookings and surveys or travel intention data that the government or industry have. access.”
Ms Canavan said the center received 40,000 calls on Monday and Tuesday and only 2,826 calls were “processed”.
She said 55 officers currently run the center, but 30 more staff are due to be added today.
However, she encouraged the public not to contact the call center unless it is urgent and they are traveling within the next five to 10 days.
The committee’s TDs have been told that an online recovery portal is expected to be up and running later this week to alleviate pressure on the call center.
People will need to apply for an EU Covid digital certificate through this new portal, but will need to provide proof that they have recovered from the infection.
You are not eligible for a recovery certificate until 11 days after your positive test result, Ms. Canavan said, and it is available for use for 180 days.
Government officials reiterated that unvaccinated people should avoid non-essential travel.
Ms Canavan said as close of business on Tuesday, 2.1 million vaccine passes had been sent in total.
Over 1.1 million certificates were sent by email; however, 7,500 emails “bounced”.
While 950,000 certificates were posted but 7,920 were not delivered successfully, the Committee heard.
It also emerged that Irish holidaymakers who traveled to Malta had to self-quarantine in hotels as they did not have the EU’s Covid digital certificate on time proving they were fully vaccinated.
HSE vaccination cards were not accepted by Maltese authorities and passengers who flew in but did not have the EU digital certificate had to pay to self-quarantine in a hotel.
Ms Canavan said Malta’s travel information is “very clear” that they do not accept handwritten proof of vaccination.
She said it was essential for people traveling to familiarize themselves with the rules for inbound travel.