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Dr Nabarro says Ireland should use six weeks wisely to avoid 'yo-yo' lockdown effect

The WHO special envoy says he doesn’t accept that the virus will inevitably require ‘draconian responses’ to be rolled out.

Dr Nabarro: 'While you are dealing with it now please put in place the essential steps that are necessary to ensure that after these particular stringent restrictions are over that you will be able to get on with life.'
Dr Nabarro: 'While you are dealing with it now please put in place the essential steps that are necessary to ensure that after these particular stringent restrictions are over that you will be able to get on with life.'
Image: Sam Boal

IRELAND SHOULD USE the six-week Level 5 lockdown period to put in place the essential steps needed to ensure the country does not enter into a “yo-yo” effect and have to implement “draconian responses” again, according to the World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy Dr David Nabarro.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne programme, the special envoy on Covid-19 said he is “not prepared to accept that this virus is inevitably going to be causing this degree of problem and inevitably going to require us to go into draconian responses”. 

Speaking about the level of restrictions imposed in Ireland, he said:

“While you are dealing with it now [Level 5 restrictions] please put in place the essential steps that are necessary to ensure that after these particular stringent restrictions are over that you will be able to get on with life without all the time looking over your shoulders and fearing yet another old onslaught” of a third wave.

Nabarro said the question that will be constantly discussed in European capitals is: “Could we have put more elements in place during the summer months that would have meant that this resurgence was less profound?” 

He said that from his perspective, the answer has to be yes. 

In his view, the six weeks of stringent restrictions in Ireland will help lower the incidence rate and protect the health service. 

“But you have got to be using this time… to make sure it doesn’t happen again, that we don’t have a yo-yo between what we might consider normal life and the privation of now,” he said. 

Nabarro said such preparations and contingency planning requires a “high-level of planning and organisation”. 

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath has said one of the reasons why the country is at Level 5 restrictions is to give people the “best possible chance of having a decent December and a decent Christmas”.

Speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting, he said he hoped that ”we get to that point” and that there are some encouraging signs, such as the fall in cases, the number of deaths and those in ICU, but he also said there is no room for complacency.

Today saw a drop in hospital cases with Covid-19 from 354 to 327.

There were 19 admissions, and 40 discharges. The positivity rate in testing has also come down over the past eight days.

“When we see what is happening in some other European countries, we really do not want to go there,” said McGrath.

Countries across Europe are bringing in tougher Covid-19 restrictions to stem an increase in cases that is putting pressure on healthcare services. 

Level 3 restrictions having an impact

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said he hopes the reduction seen in the last week will continue. He believes that the Level 3 measures that were imposed are showing an impact on the numbers, stating that there is always a lag in the data. 

“It is very hard to be precise, the numbers are still high so it is not like they are plummeting down to a really low level, but yes, I think there is some indication that those Level 3 measures were starting to work. We’ll see what happens in the next week,” he said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Prime Time, Prof. Kirsten Schaffer, Consultant Microbiologist in St. Vincent’s Hospital, said it was “very reassuring” to see the case numbers coming down in Ireland over the last seven days, stating that perhaps numbers peaked about a week ago. 

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She said this suggests that the restrictions taken with Level 3 and Level 4 “have achieved something”.

Schaffer said she is concerned about Christmas, stating that the public need to be told that this won’t be a normal Christmas.

She said information needs to be given to the public now so they can plan ahead, stating that some people might choose to restrict their movements in the weeks before Christmas Day in order to be able to meet with family.

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