Too early to consider widespread easing of restrictions, says public health expert

ireland
Too Early To Consider Widespread Easing Of Restrictions, Says Public Health Expert
On Sunday, Ireland recorded the lowest daily increase in Covid-19 cases since mid-December. (Brian Lawless/PA), © PA Wire/PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in Dublin City University (DCU), has said the strong suppression of Covid-19 needs to be maintained, and it may be too early to consider opening up the country.

The number of cases of the virus were coming down very slowly, and it was going to be challenging as there is still uncertainty as to how the virus can be contained, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was not being unreasonable to express concern about what would happen if the country opened up, Prof Staines added.

Other countries that had been successful in suppressing the virus had increased public health services and used aggressive contact tracing, he said. “We’re not doing any of these things,” Prof Staines added.

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Commenting on the State's previous method to contact tracing, Prof Stains said the two-day approach had been “an utter waste of time”, missing transmission patterns and identification of contacts.

He explained it was very difficult to see where cases had come from when a thorough examination of people's movements prior to them testing positive had not been carried out.

The country was going to count the economic cost of the virus while people continued to get sick, he said, which meant there was a strong case for controlling and suppressing numbers.

“Strong suppression is the name of the game,” Prof Staines added.

On Sunday, the Department of Health confirmed 269 new cases of the virus, the first time this year the figure had dropped below 300.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn attributed the falling incidence to the "enormous efforts of people across society to keep themselves and their families safe", adding that such actions would give the vaccine rollout time to play a larger role in the suppression of the virus.

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