Closing schools for the month of January would mean there could be a return to “normal” life in the Republic by St Patrick’s Day, a DCU professor has said.
Prof Anthony Staines has warned the country could face 1,000 cases each day by the end of December if the numbers surrounding Covid-19 continue to rise.
The professor is among a group of European scientists and doctors calling for a different strategy to better manage the virus.
“We’ve identified a strategy which we think would get Ireland back to normal by Paddy’s Day,” he said.
“Now that strategy is not zero cost. [The] price of it would be significant restrictions for January.
“One option that would make the restrictions end faster would be closing schools in January, opening in February and running the Leaving Cert at the end of June and into July.”
A return to “normal” by St Patrick’s Day on March 17th would mark just over a year from the beginning of the pandemic in the Republic.
New restrictions are now set to be imposed on businesses and household visits in the Republic from December 30th.
It follows the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet)’s recommendation of “Level 3 plus” restrictions from December 28th.
Political sources have privately said that these restrictions could be in place until a vaccine roll-out begins to have an effect.
The Republic’s Chief Medical Officer has warned the country “simply cannot cope” with current levels of infection, after 582 new cases and six further deaths were confirmed yesterday evening.
We’re still chasing behind it
Prof Staines said Nphet is correct to advise the reimposition of restrictions shortly before the New Year.
“I’m afraid they’re probably taking the necessary actions and I take no joy in the necessity, but it is what was predicted in advance,” he said.
“One of the challenges I think for the Government and for all of us is this: at the moment we are reacting to the virus, so when the viral incidence changes, when the number of cases changes, we do something different, but we’re still chasing behind it.”
On the other side of the Border, paramedics from the Republic have come to the aid of hospitals overwhelmed as a result of the pandemic.
It comes as Northern Ireland’s political leaders have clashed amid a blame game over the region’s spiralling Covid-19 infection rates, unanimously agreeing to impose a sweeping six-week lockdown which will come into force on St Stephen's Day.