Infectious disease specialist Professor Sam McConkey has said that the Government is now at a crossroads and is faced with two decisions on treating Covid-19.
The first option is to continue efforts to flatten the curve over a period of six to nine months, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
The second choice is “more severe” and would entail a “short, sharp response” to try to prevent the spread of the virus entirely. Such a move would require 32-county involvement, he said.
This was what South Korea and New Zealand were doing and because Ireland is an island it was an approach that could work here, he explained.
For the more aggressive option to work there would need to be more frequent and quicker testing with results within hours and contact tracing in a speedier fashion too.
“It would be challenging. It would mean restricting travel and quarantining people coming into the country.”
This would have to be a political choice and the Government would have to weigh up the economic and social costs.
Professor McConkey said: “I feel it has to be a national decision.
There are cost benefits with each option, but the "short, sharp" option might require using GPS apps, the willingness of people for their spatial data to be monitored and might require changes in the law, he warned.
Dr Catherine Motherway, president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, told the same programme that the Government is doing its best and that the measures taken to date have “really helped.”
She said she hoped the public would continue to observe the social distancing guidelines. “It has made a difference. We haven’t seen scenes like they had in Italy, in Madrid and in London.
“We should be proud of ourselves and continue staying at home. We are controlling it. This is one disaster that the population knows how to avoid.”
Dr Motherway said that ICUs are coping with the Covid-19 crisis because plans were made in advance and hospitals were reorganised.
“We will continue to control it if the public helps us by stopping the surge.”