Ireland must seal borders or face lockdowns into 2022, scientist says

Ireland Must Seal Borders Or Face Lockdowns Into 2022, Scientist Says
Prof James McInerney said it was obvious Ireland needed to adopt the New Zealand approach and seal borders. Photo: PA
Share this article

Vivienne Clarke

A leading microbiologist has warned that unless Ireland seals its borders and introduces rigorous quarantining measures there will be repeated lockdowns for the remainder of the year and maybe even into 2022.

Prof James McInerney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it was obvious Ireland needed to adopt the New Zealand approach and seal its borders.


There were ways of quarantining and making sure that people arriving into the country did not bring the virus with them, he said.

Irish-born Prof McInerney, who is a computational evolutionary biologist and head of life sciences at the University of Nottingham, pointed out that last December he was being asked if the UK coronavirus variant was in Ireland and now it was the main variant in the country.

That’s how quickly it could spread, he said. The main concern with the new variants was that some were more transmissible while others made people sicker. The 501Y (South African) variant was of particular concern, he said as there was some evidence that people could be reinfected.

Vaccines could be “tweaked” and the consensus was that regulatory hurdles would not be as severe in the future. It was akin to removing a block in the wall of a house and replacing it, which would provide protection, he explained.


Mandatory quarantine

Prof McInerney's comments come as the Government considers introducing mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving into the Republic who do not have a valid PCR test showing they are Covid negative.

The Cabinet is coming under increasing pressure to introduce tougher restrictions as the EU mulls a ban on non-essential travel between member states.

A Government source told The Irish Times that “nothing is being ruled out” in relation to tightening the rules on incoming travel.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Thursday raised the risk of new variants to high to very high and warned that the greater infectiousness of the UK variant was likely to lead to “higher hospitalisation and death rates”.


The European Commission proposed to EU leaders on Thursday identifying “dark red” coronavirus hot spots from which all but essential travel would be discouraged after a meeting to discuss the mounting challenge from more infectious virus variants.

Arrivals into Ireland without negative Covid test...
Read More

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after the meeting that the health situation in Europe was “very serious”, with new variants and an increase in infections.

She stressed that countries should not close their borders, to ensure the functioning of the single market, including the flow of goods and travel for cross-border workers.


However, she said the Commission would add a new “dark red” category to its traffic light indications of risk, for regions where the virus was circulating at a very high rate. Today, almost all of Europe is red.

“Persons travelling from dark red areas could be required to do a test before departure, as well as to undergo quarantine after arrival,” she said, adding all non-essential travel should be discouraged from these areas. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2024, developed by Square1 and powered by