The focus on daily coronavirus cases numbers is “certainly too simplistic,” according to an infectious disease specialist.
It comes after the Tánaiste this week questioned whether Ireland was using the right criteria to decide on COVID-19 restrictions and policy.
In an interview with The Currency, Leo Varadkar said many other countries are no longer using case numbers to decide on policy and said politicians must direct health officials to consider hospitalisations, ICU capacity, and deaths instead.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, said public health officials consider a range of officials when considering their recommendations.
“That is what most of us, both the public health people and people like myself, have been doing,” he said.
“Not just deaths and ICU but also looking at, of the tests that were done yesterday, what fraction of those was positive. Now it is about 2% or 3%, whereas three months ago it was ten times lower than that – so the positivity rate if you like of the tests is important.
“Similarly, the economic impact; similarly, where public buy-in is at; similarly, where the economy is and the impact of all the restrictions.
“This is a very multi-dimensional problem that certainly needs to be considered in the round, looking at behavioural, economic, social and a range of medical factors.
“So, I completely agree with him and I think, more or less, everyone has been doing that.”
Last night, the Government introduced new restrictions on home visits around the country, with people now only permitted to welcome visitors from one other household.
Professor McConkey said the change will make little difference to most households.
“My view is that many of us in households all over Ireland have already been doing this,” he said.
“We have been restricting social contacts and not having parties or lots of people from different houses – maybe choosing, as we are allowed now, to have one other household in up to six people.
“So, I think may people were already there. They realise this is a big worldwide problem and we don’t want our elderly getting it.”
He said students and young people need to consider their elderly relatives when making decisions on socialising.
“There has been a lot of talk about students and students in Galway and what they are up to,” he said.
“The difference in Irish students is that most Irish students go back home for the weekend. They go back home for Halloween and Christmas. They live with their parents and they live with their elderly grandparents so I think students really do need to try and avoid spreading it widely because when they do go home, they will infect the elderly and their parents.”
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