By G9ija

The call centre currently has 25 to 30 staff, the Oireachtas Committee on Travel heard today and when the full call centre begins to operate from Monday, this will be increased to 60 to 90 staff.

Out of 4,000 calls that were received yesterday to the emergency helpline currently in operation, only 1,200 callers got to speak to a person.

2,800 people “gave up” at the IVR (interactive voice response) stage of the call, said Minister Smyth.

The certs are being issued to allow those who are fully vaccinated or who have recently recovered from Covid to travel abroad.

Yesterday, Government officials appealed to people only to ring the helpline if they have received their certs and need to urgently travel.

He said that he did not know how long people were waiting to speak to an operator.

“The first day, as the Minister said, we got 4,000 calls. Interestingly enough, a lot of those stopped once they actually listened through the IVR. So we’re hoping that that’s a sign that the IVR is giving them the information they want,” said the Minister’s official Barry Lowry.

However, as the call centre is being ramped up from Monday, the number of staff at the call centre will be increased to 60 to 90.

Chair of the Committee TD Kieran O’Donnell asked if this will be “sufficient”.

“You’re going to have a lot of calls initially,” he said.

The call centre is being provided by the Department of Health.

At least 90pc of EU digital travel certs which will be delivered by post will be received by Monday, according to Mr Smyth.

Between 50,000 and 70,000 letters will be posted per day and there have been 350,000 letters posted so far.

He told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that there “might be a backlog” into Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, despite international travel resuming this coming Monday.

The Government is “ahead of schedule” in issuing the certs via email and those who got their jab in a vaccination centre should receive their certs via email by tomorrow.

The committee heard that there is always a “risk” of machine failure.

A power cut on Sunday affected the printing of some certs.

Minister Smyth urged people to “open their letters” from the Revenue Commissioners when they come in as the letter may be their travel cert.

The committee heard that 25 labs have so far requested to process tests for the purpose of issuing travel certs.