Professor Liam Glynn has advised that everyone should be behaving as if they have the coronavirus.
“We should all be behaving as if we have Covid-19” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show.
Prof Glynn, who is also a GP in Co Clare, further warned that ‘technically’ there could be false negatives in test results. “This isn’t an exact science.”
“Not to scare people, but you need to think as if you have Covid-19. If you think like that it will halt the spread of the virus in our community.”
GPs will put their shoulder to the wheel, he said with regard to redirecting patients who will have their tests rescheduled as the criteria for testing change.
Screening and testing will only work if the focus is on people likely to have the virus.
Prof Glynn, who has been tracking the spread of the virus daily said that “unfortunately the graph (of Irish cases) looks far too like Italy for my liking.”
However, he said the number of deaths per million was lower than the UK and compared favourably with some countries who are managing the crisis well.
“Ultimately this is about people’s lives in your community, in my community. Lives we’re trying to save.
Prof Glynn said he welcomed the steps taken with regard to social distancing as people had not been observing the recommendations. He called on people not to interact with anybody outside their family group.
“The government is trying to walk a tight rope for the nation. The measures they have taken are proportionate.”
The Dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine at Royal College of Physicians Ireland has said the new restrictions will slow the spread of the virus by reducing the risks of catching it.
Professor Emer Shelley told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that there is evidence that the virus spread has already slowed throughout the community, which is why new measures were being taken.
There are a number of indicators that will show if the measures are working - the number daily cases and the number of contacts emerging from a positive case. She pointed out that the number of contacts from a positive case has already reduced from 20 to five.
What is needed is bring that right down and once this happens “we will have gone over the peak over the curve.”
The 'test, test, test' philosophy will continue but in a more concentrated way so the capacity of the testing system can match the groups that are being referred for testing, she said.
When asked if it was still safe to work on a construction site, Prof Shelley said there are strong regulations in the construction industry for health and safety and that some sites might be “well capable of physical distancing” and sites should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.