An infectious disease specialist has warned that that if the numbers continue the way they are going Ireland is heading “back towards where we were in March and April.”
Professor Sam McConkey was speaking after the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) expressed serious concern about continuing to Phase Four of the roadmap for reopening.
No new deaths form the virus were reported yesterday; however, 32 new cases were confirmed – the highest number in over a month.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning Professor McConkey said appears to have been a “worrying” rise in the reproductive rate of the virus in recent days.
“If it continues like that, then of course, we end up on a trajectory heading exactly where we were in March and April and that would be a complete disaster,” he said.
“Even though it is only affecting young people now we are told, eventually it will spread to the elderly and then cause a lot of death and disease.”
He said he is concerned we are now looking at the start of a second surge; however, he is confident we now have better tools to respond to it.
“I don’t think it will be a wave,” he said. “I am confident that what we did in this country in March and May controlled a rather substantial burst of infection and, if we do that better and quicker, then we can make whatever happens again, less.
“I am confident that we can learn from our previous experience and we can repeat it as well and with things like the app, perhaps that will help us to control it even better.”
He said it is too early to say whether the rise should affect the reopening of pubs next week – and said officials will be examining where the new cases are coming from.
“Whether these new cases are all people travelling in from abroad or not I don’t know that information,” he said.
“If they are and we are catching them, that is not so bad.
“But if they are unexplained community transmission of COVID-19 – just random people here in Ireland in the community coming up positive, that is really worrying and a big sign saying this epidemic is going to start again in Ireland and then we need to take some dramatic action.”
Professor McConkey said there is nothing wrong with opening up a green list for international travel – provided you are careful about the countries you choose.
“There are, I am delighted to say, a number of countries in Europe and in Asia that have done just as well as us in controlling coronavirus,” he said.
“These are countries that have clear, open and transparent data that we can trust that have done very well.
“The problem is, how often have you gone on holiday to Norway and Finland? They may not be the countries you want to go to.”
You can listen back to the interview here: