Text messages in English and Portuguese have been sent to 1,511 travelers who have arrived at Ireland from Brazil in the past 28 days advised them to self-isolate and arrange for a Covid-19 test, the Department of Health has said.
Up to four text messages per person have begun to be sent to arrivals from Brazil where a new strain of the Covid-19 virus has emerged in recent weeks. This followed the emergence of a more transmissible strain of the coronavirus in the UK and south Africa.
The government is currently advising against undertaking “all travel to and from countries in South America” while the Health Minister is asking everyone who has arrived from Brazil over the past two weeks to contact their GP to administer a free Covid-19 test and to limit their movements.
A Health Ministry spokesperson underlined that all passengers arriving in the state are required to fill out a Covid-19 passenger search form and show evidence of a negative PCR test.
“In the last few days, a series of SMS text messages have been sent to 1,511 passengers arriving from Brazil in the past 28 days to pass this advice on to them,” he said. The Irish Times. “These text messages are sent in English and Brazilian Portuguese. Recent arrivals will receive up to four SMS within a 14 day period of arrival to Ireland. “
Luz Pereira, a member of the Irish branch of the Women of Brazil group, said the government should use social media to inform travelers from Brazil about the updated Covid-19 advice, adding that the Irish community of Brazil relies heavily on Facebook for updates on the pandemic. Ms Pereira flew to Brazil in late December following the death of a family member and returned to Ireland last Friday. He is currently self-isolating and has arranged to take a Covid-19 test. He said airport officials did not ask where he flew from after arriving in Dublin but he had received text messages in English and Portuguese advising him to quarantine after his trip and arrange for tests.
There is still a lot of confusion around Covid-19 health advice among the migrant community, especially when people rely on updates from home countries and the Irish media, he said. Migrant frontline workers also remain very nervous about catching the virus, he added. “The people we talk to don’t get the assurance they need that everything will be all right. Not everyone receives the protective equipment they need and people are very nervous. “
Paulo Azevedo Ribeiro, deputy head of mission at the Brazilian embassy in Dublin, said posting the latest Covid-19 advice on Facebook was “very effective” but embassy officials also used WhatsApp groups, phone calls, emails and contacting community groups to get outgoing messages. “Strictly following health restrictions and recommendations is on everyone’s mind, there is no doubt about that,” said Azevedo Ribeiro. “Everyone we spoke to was very committed and involved.”
Valeria Aquino, Integration Officer with the Irish Immigrant Council who also runs the Brazilian Family Association in Ireland, said language schools and student unions should also play a role in disseminating information among students.
“Most Brazilians here are language students and their first point of contact is their school. I think focusing on disseminating information through schools and international language student unions is the most efficient way. “
Ms Aquino agrees that the migrant community can become confused by the mixed health messages surrounding Covid-19 coming from Ireland and their home countries. “There is a lot of information online and media groups but it is difficult to know which one is reliable. That can be a big challenge. And the longer you stay here, the more you feel you have to connect with the national media so you know what’s going on. “
Ms Aquino said Brazil in Ireland had been hit “very hard” by the virus given so many working in frontline roles such as retail and childcare. “Many people come to us looking for basic information like where they can get food or how to access the health system. We also have many cases of domestic violence and women trying to access this service without fluent English. All of this makes the Covid situation more difficult for migrants. “
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