Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

11.19 6 Oct 2020


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An infectious diseases expert says coronavirus restrictions need to be enforced if people aren't following them voluntarily.

Professor Jack Lambert says Ireland's current approach is flawed, and a 'new government organisation' is needed to get more stakeholders around the table.

The Government last night confirmed a move to level three restrictions, having rejected the NPHET recommendation to move the entire country to level five for four weeks.

Jack Lambert - Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Mater, Rotunda and UCD School of Medicine - told The Pat Kenny Show that the current approach is not working.

'If voluntary is not going to work, just enforce it' - Jack Lambert on coronavirus rules

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Professor Lambert suggested travel representatives, scientists and frontline organisations need to be involved in the decision-making.

He said: "Having a public health emergency group putting together a recommendation, send it to the politicians, and then having complaints from civil society - from the travel industry to restaurateurs to the politicians... that's not the way to do it.

"Why don't you have everybody in the same room on the day, presenting the pros and cons?

"We need to focus on getting it right and COVID prevention as part of the solution. What's going to be different when we come out of [level three] lockdown... what are we going to do right?"

'New government organisation'

Professor Lambert said the coronavirus situation is a crisis, but Ireland hasn't been treating it like one in recent months.

He observed: "We haven't done the right things. Let's think about what we can do after the three weeks of level three to do the right thing.

"I think we need a new government organisation to deal with COVID."

He argued that it's up to everybody to do the right thing, but authorities also need to send out the right messages.

The Government has said the new measures will involve greater enforcement of the rules - and Professor Lambert said that is necessary if the message isn't getting through.

He observed: "They're great at clamping [cars] all over Dublin - get somebody who is going to enforce it. Just hand out tickets... if voluntary is not going to work, just enforce it.

"The numbers are going up - I work in a hospital, and I don't want to see people dead. But there are ways to solve this problem without going back into a massive lockdown. We need to come up with solutions quickly.

"We've had seven months since the beginning of this pandemic, and here we are back in a surge again - not as bad as last time, to reassure people."

He reiterated that there's a need to now get 'everybody at the table' to come up with the right plan for the country.

Main image: File photo of gardaí in Dublin. Picture: Rollingnews.ie

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