The lack of mandatory quarantine for people arriving in Ireland is a 'hole in the roof' of Ireland's coronavirus strategy, Dr Gabriel Scally says.
He said the country is busy 'mopping up after a disastrous set of relaxations' before Christmas, but the virus can still arrive into the country through ports and airports.
Currently, anyone arriving here must have evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test 72 hours before arrival.
People are then advised to restrict their movements, while those arriving from Britain, South Africa or South America are advised to self isolate for a full 14 days.
However, many experts have called for the likes of hotels to be used for mandatory quarantine instead - as has been done in the likes of New Zealand - instead of the current approach.
Public health expert Dr Scally told Moncrieff the current travel rules in the Republic and Northern Ireland are simply too lax.
He said: “We know the virus came from Britain and Ireland from abroad, and we know it has continued to come.
“We know that there isn’t really any barrier to that spread.
“Particularly now when we know there are dangerous variants cropping up across the world, having open borders to the virus is really, really bad news."
He said the new variants - such as one originally detected in Brazil - seem to be more transmissible, and in a worst-case scenario may even be able to 'dodge the vaccines'.
He suggested the only way to deal with the virus is to 'keep it at arm's length', and that means strict controls at ports and airports.
'Hole in the roof'
Dr Scally said island nations such as New Zealand and Taiwan have done 'really, really well' during the pandemic, showing mandatory travel restrictions can and do work.
The public health expert also suggested a negative test up to 72 hours before arriving has clear limitations as well.
He said: “You could have got it along the way. We know people travel using mass travel to get to airports… sometimes they’re in lounges in airports, or transiting through other busy airports.
"[There’s then] the travel on the airplanes, travel getting off the plane, and then getting to your destination - all of that makes that one test… really a nonsense.
“Most people understand the basic analogy here that we’re busy trying to mop up the floor at the moment after a disastrous set of relaxations… but we haven’t fixed the hole in the roof.
“The hole in the roof is the virus coming in through our ports and airports.”
Dr Scally said he doesn't 'for the life of me' know why there hasn't been a more joined-up approach between the North and Republic, as the border is a '300 mile backdoor' that's impossible to control without cooperation.