Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Digital Health Passes to Be Issued Soon Despite Cyber-Attacks, Irish Minister Says

Despite the recent cyber-attacks on Ireland Health Service (HSE), the Minister for Communications, Ossian Smyth, has stated that once the EU approves the digital health pass, there won’t be any delays for the document to be at Irish citizens’ disposal.

Minister Smyth reasoned the speculation of possible delays since HSE staff has been committed to returning systems from the recent cyberattack that occurred a few days ago, threatening to publish patients’ data from HSE. Either way, according to Smyth, data from the vaccination programme hasn’t been affected, reports.

Smyth set a one-week deadline for the green pass to be issued since a pilot programme regarding the matter has been implemented earlier this year.

“We will be ready within a week of the EU legislation,” Communication Minister Smyth said on Today with Claire Byrne, RTÉ radio’s show.

Under the digital pass system, other countries may require vaccination, a negative COVID-19 test or a record of recovery from the virus as proof.

However, Minister Smyth asserted that issuing a digital certificate would have been more reliable than travellers presenting evidence of negative test results. Such documents could be easily manipulated since private companies and laboratories provided them but weren’t always able to verify their reliability.

According to him, the digital green pass would accelerate the time at the airport and also include a bar code, so pre-registration would be a “smarter way to do it”.

Speaking of the patients’ data possibly being shared on the web, Minister Smyth said he did not believe such a thing has happened yet.

The Garda’s National Cyber Crime Bureau would follow up on such reports, but there hasn’t been any evidence of a connection until now, although it is a possibility.

According to Smyth, a blackmailing hackers group has conducted cyber-attacks, which have been under international agencies surveillance, since they had already attacked 16 hospitals in the USA.

Recently, Ireland has decided to allow entry for travellers vaccinated against Coronavirus or have a negative Coronavirus result, starting mid-July. The move followed a joint meeting between Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper) and Council and the European Parliament on May 20.

The European Union Member States leaders are expected to approve the plan, which can be implemented until July 1, as the ongoing summit in Brussels will determine. Still, the member states will have only six weeks to implement it.

So far, Ireland has reported over 259,415 positive COVID-19 cases and 4,941 deaths. Based on the data by Worldometers, more than 241,692 people in Ireland have recovered from the virus.

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