Jack Quann
Jack Quann

14.11 27 May 2020


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A professor of health systems says any situation which would see society resume, with cocooned or those at risk staying home, will not work.

Professor Anthony Staines of Dublin City University (DCU) told Lunchtime Live that such a scenario has already been modeled.

"What happens is the virus springs straight out into the whole community because you can't separate the cocooned.

"Nursing homes are an extreme form of cocooning, and we had hundreds of deaths in nursing homes".

"You're talking about PPE for everyone who shares a house with an older person".

"It has been modelling and it doesn't work.

"It doesn't work because the virus comes out... and they start getting sick."

"It's becoming quite clear that about one in 20 people who get COVID have long-term health effects."

He also said that Ireland's testing and tracing system can be fixed.

"You have to test and trace within probably about 48 hours - 24 hours for the test 24 hours for the trace.

"We can fix that, that's not impossible.

"What this looks like is probably the following: serious level of testing and tracing, everyone wearing masks."

Lunchtime Live host Ciara Kelly said: "I think one of the reasons people aren't wearing masks in public is because of the mealy-mouthed public health advice to do so.

"They were wishy-washy on it in the beginning and now people are not convinced of the merits of it".

Prof Staines said: "The evidence is now clear: masks don't protect you from getting infected, they stop you infecting other people.

"That's the message and that actually wasn't clear, the evidence wasn't clear three months ago".

"One of the challenges is you don't know whether you're at risk or not.

"We have had a number of very healthy young people died from COVID very unexpectedly."

To this, Ciara said: "They are an absolute minority.

"What we do know is statistically you are at significant increased risk of COVID if you are over a certain age and if you have underlying medical [conditions]."

It comes as several experts in public health, including Prof Staines, have joined forces to canvass public support for tighter restrictions across the island of Ireland.

This is to eradicate the coronavirus, rather than living alongside it.

Prof Staines said: "The current plan is to live with low levels of coronavirus for the foreseeable future.

"What we're suggesting is this: if we've low levels of coronavirus, we have almost as much disruption to our daily life as we do at the moment.

"Dublin Bus were talking about running at 20% of capacity, pubs and restaurants are talking about running at 20%, theatres and cinemas at 30%.

"So there's a huge cost for all of us which goes on for many, many months.

"Schools may be opening every other day: if you have two primary school children at home and one is in school Monday, Wednesday, Friday [and] the other's in school Tuesday, Thursday, Friday that's almost five full days of childcare you need".

"All we're trying to do is to stop the virus circulating in the country".

"We're not suggesting going backwards, we're suggesting going forwards from where we are now in a carefully considered way.

"And I think the big bits in this are masks and testing and tracing, and making the quarantine work and doing it north and south".

Main image: A 'thank you' poster to frontline workers at the corner of Wexford Street in Dublin. Picture by: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie


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Anthony Staines Ciara Kelly Covid-19 Health Effects Lockdown Lunchtime Live

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