Return on Level 5 measures 'disappointing' says immunology expert

Return On Level 5 Measures 'Disappointing' Says Immunology Expert
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly expects doses of the vaccine to be administered in the New Year.
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Digital Desk Staff

The Covid-19 vaccine taskforce is due to meet later today, as the country enters the final day of Level 5 restrictions.

However, immunology expert Professor Paul Moynagh has said more targeted restrictions are needed to prevent subsequent waves of the virus until a vaccine has been widely administered, adding Level 5 restrictions were disproportionate.

Prof Moynagh said he was concerned that if the number of cases continued to increase with the easing of Level 5 restrictions, there would be a return to lockdown, which he described as a “flawed” method of controlling the virus.

Today will be the second meeting of the national taskforce who are deciding how approved vaccines will be rolled out nationwide when they become available.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said he expects jabs to be rolled out in Ireland in the New Year, with healthcare workers and those with vulnerable conditions expected to be treated first.


But immunology professor at Trinity College Dublin, Luke O'Neill thinks vaccination could begin sooner.

"It's just a logistical question once it's given the green light which is what we are waiting for. In America, they are saying their vaccination programme will begin on December 11th and it shouldn't be any different in Europe really."

Until then, Minister Donnelly says the country is entering "unchartered territory", according to the Irish Times, expecting case numbers to rise sharply with the reopening of shops and restaurants.

Level 3

Following an announcement by Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Friday, the retail sector will reopen from tomorrow, December 1st, while restaurants, cafes, hotels and pubs serving food will be permitted to resume indoor dining from December 4th.

'Wet pubs', those that do not serve food, will not be permitted to reopen and a substantial meal over €9 in value will have to be purchased in order to be served alcohol.

Mr Donnelly said a more rapid increase in case numbers is expected compared to what was experienced following the previous reopening in the summer, as the level of the disease is higher now than it was then.

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In order to combat this increased spread, pop-up testing facilities are being called for to allow localised outbreaks to be dealt with efficiently.

Professor Sam McConkey from the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland (RCSI) says once restaurants open again, it will allow the disease to spread.

"There was one case in Germany of a lady who touched a salt cellar and then another person came into the restaurant when that lady left, touched the salt cellar and caught it from the salt cellar, so even touching objects a few minutes or hours later can lead to transmission of this virus.

"I think we need to be doing deep cleans of all the places that people have been with Covid and we need to be expanding our circles of testing to contacts who are less close."

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