Michael Staines
Michael Staines

21.49 15 May 2020


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A leading doctor from the World Health Organisation has warned that we “can’t live frozen forever” as countries begin to ease lockdown measures.

On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Dr Margaret Harris said Ireland is now entering a “really crucial, critical stage” in its COVID-19 response.

She was speaking after a former state epidemiologist for Sweden told Newstalk Breakfast that Ireland’s lockdown is simply pushing serious cases into the future.

Dr Johan Giesecke said Ireland should have taken the same approach as Sweden, warning that the lockdown is “destroying the fabric” of our society and economy.

Speaking to Ivan Yates this evening, Dr Harris said the WHO never told countries they had to lock-down - noting that the advice was that they had to find a way to ‘flatten the curve’ of the virus.

“We can’t live frozen forever,” she said.

“The purpose of a lockdown is simply to have a short moment of quarantine to get that transmission down.

“What you have to do in order to live with the virus is understand that one of the biggest jobs that has got to go on in every country now is really, really strong testing and contact tracing.

“There has to be huge commitment to that so you have your eyes on where the virus is and where it is trying to transmit so that you are not flying blind.”

Grafton Street COVID-19 lockdown Helicopter money Grafton Street in Dublin City Centre, 29-04-2020. Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews

She said many countries chose to enter lockdown after seeing China’s success in slowing the spread of the virus - but pointed to others that had success with different tactics.

“Taiwan didn’t lock down,” she said. “They had a very, very difficult experience with SARS back in 2003 and they had a community that understood what it means when you have something like this transmitting in your society.

“They had the social distancing, the hand hygiene and the environmental hygiene almost in their DNA and they have really brought it down without having to go to lockdown measures – so it is not something that every country has to do

“What really matters is whether you are doing your testing and contact tracing and also that your community really understands what everybody needs to do and is committed and trusts that those are the things that work.”

You can listen back to the interview here:

"We can’t live frozen forever” - WHO expert on learning to live with COVID-19

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    


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