Ireland’s public health experts warns that the country will head towards a major Covid-19 outbreak in the coming autumn, unless a significant change is made in its national strategy.
“We are sleep-walking towards a major surge in infections. We need a strategy to eliminate Covid-19,” said Prof. Ivan Perry, Ireland’s leading experts in public health.
Prof. Perry, Dean of Public Health at University College Cork (UCC), is a member of the Zero Covid Island group that wanted to take tougher measures to eradicate the virus.
The group said that the recent increase in cases was due to the reckless actions of many youths and particularly the elderly.
“If we are willing to adopt more restrictive measures over the next few weeks, there is a real possibility that we can avoid this winter surge, begin to open up our economy and return to near normal life much earlier than is likely with the current policy of temporising with the virus,” said Prof. Perry.
“The government needs to adopt and lead on a policy of elimination to get to Zero Covid-19.
“We estimate that we can bring Covid to zero cases per day in between four and six weeks and then begin a cautious return to normal life,” he added.
Things that are safe will remain open, but major events are not allowed.
There will be tight monitoring in places where there are greater chances of spreading the virus. The meat industry and other major source of virus outbreaks including houses with high density will be strictly under control.
“A Zero Covid Ireland allows safe return to work, to school, and will support the recovery of our society and economy,”
The key measure that are proposed by Prof. Perry and group are: restricting all non-essential travel, check and monitor all incoming people at ports and airports, identify more active cases and trace their contacts, face masks should be mandatory especially for all indoor activities, even more rigorous hygiene and social distancing.
The group said their overall aim is to suppress the virus cases and bring back normal life. “The policy then became suppression of the virus to a tolerable level, of ‘living with the virus, and awaiting a vaccine.”
“The rising number of cases over the last few weeks shows the limits of this approach. We need to get ahead of this.”
The group said a total of six vaccines are currently in clinical trials but will only be available on the market with a limited supply by April 2021. Development of a safe vaccine is necessary to eradicate the virus completely.
Prof. Perry suggested to have a strict monitoring and testing in all ports and airports because closing the borders are not practical.
“Northern Ireland may well decide to test travellers from outside the Common Travel Area (CTA) and that’s fine.
“The faster the virus goes down, the faster the economy can begin to recover. Going to zero would allow us to focus help on the areas most affected, e.g. tourism and performing arts, and those most dependent on foreign tourists,” he added.
He said the group members are working hard to bring the number of cases to nil and said that the group has confidence in the Irish people as they clearly respond to the group’s instructions.