COVID-19: Ireland 'needs to move away from lockdowns'


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.32 12 Aug 2020


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Ireland should move away from 'the default fallback' of going into lockdown as a result of coronavirus cases.

That is according to Paul Moynagh, who is professor of immunology and director of the Kathleen Lonsdale Institute for Human Health research at NUI Maynooth.

He was responding as officials announed a new plan for tackling the virus here over the next six to nine months.

He told Newstalk Breakfast tracing needs to be improved, while lockdowns should be avoided.

"I think it's absolutely essential - I think the time has come, if not before, to generate a strategy that will take us over the next nine months - if not beyond.

"I think there's a sense that the vaccine will come along and the virus will disappear in he coming months or coming year.

"But I think we have to plan for being around this virus for some time.

"So I think it's a good thing that that discussion is taking place".

He said measures such as social social and limiting large gatherings need to be combined with good test-trace-isolate systems.

"One of the things that we're reading in some of the reports this morning in terms of some of the detail that's coming out about the strategy is this idea again that it's underpinned by always going to lockdown - whether its local lockdown, full national lockdown.

"That concerns me a bit because I think that's always the default fallback, and I think we need to move beyond that, especially in terms of getting the country up and running again and in terms of trying to mitigate the damage that is being done to the economy.

"But also other healthcare issues, especially non-COVID healthcare.

"So I think we need to be more imaginative and pro-active in terms of trying to deal with these problems, rather than resorting to lockdowns".

"I think there's a narrative there that we got to a really good place during the summer, and that was entirely due to lockdowns.

"I take a different view: I think if you look at the data, I think the data shows that what we were doing before the full lockdown and those measures that I just mentioned earlier, they were the measures that brought our numbers down significantly.

"And you also saw, as we moved out of lockdown, the numbers remained low and that 'R' value actually decreased even more.

"We're running into some difficulties now because now we have a number of clusters, but again what we need in place there is a really strong surveillance system and that seems to be failing us.

"And we're coming back to discuss the testing and tracing system and the surveillance just doesn't seem to be as it should be".

On this, he said: "The secret there is to try to detect [clusters] as early as possible.

"So if we take the example in the last week, the clusters in the meat factories: that shouldn't come as a surprise to us.

"We've known from earlier on in part of the experience we've had with our own pandemic, but also in terms of more recent cases in Germany, these are one of the hotspots".

COVID-19: Ireland 'needs to move away from lockdowns'

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Main image: Dublin's Grafton Street is seen with shoppers wearing face masks. Picture by: Leah Farrell / Rollingnews.ie

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Clusters Coronavirus Covid-19 Ireland Local Lockdown Local Lockdowns Lockdowns Newstalk Breakfast Paul Moynagh

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