The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) special envoy on Covid-19 has said he does not think that Ireland is heading back into a strict lockdown.
Dr David Nabarro told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that although Covid figures at present were high, he was hopeful, especially since the country had acted quickly.
The situation in Ireland had become quite dramatic in recent weeks with surges in numbers and health services stretched, he said.
The Government had a clear idea of what was going on, “there will have to be some restrictions, but I don’t get a feeling that you’re moving into stringent lockdown, I very much hope that won’t happen.”
Dr Nabarro also cautioned about the use of antigen tests, warning that they were not 100 per cent reliable and that it was sometimes difficult to get a positive result. They had a role to play in schools as part of the process to keep children and educators safe, he said.
When asked about contact tracing, Dr Nabarro said that he understood that when the system was “swamped” it would not be possible in every case, but where possible it should be used “so you know where the clusters are.”
On the issue of mask wearing for children aged five to 12, Dr Nabarro said he personally felt that masks should be worn “if they can” because the evidence was that mask wearing, combined with other measures, lowered the risk of surges.
“I’m generally pro-mask wearing, even in family situations where there are elderly or vulnerable people,” he said.
Dr Nabarro pointed out that vaccines had been developed to prevent death and serious illness from Covid-19, not to stop transmission, so it did not make sense to vaccinate children under the age of 12 for whom the risk of death was very low.