Public health expert Dr Gabriel Scally has warned that there isn’t time for information campaigns on the dangers of the spread of Covid-19.
“We don’t have time to turn everyone into saints.”
Dr Scally was commenting on concerns raised by Nphet about the rise of the R number this week.
“This is not a time for panic or the ringing of alarm bells,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney show.
Northern Ireland and the South were close to getting control of the virus, both jurisdictions were “tantalising close to getting control.”
It would be terrible to let that prize slip out of grasp by risky behaviour or importing the virus, he added.
“We’re at a fork in the road, there are two ways to go. We really need a safe summer, a zero Covid summer.”
He said it was wrong to have flights coming into Ireland from Texas which was a high risk zone.
“We can't do this in just one part of the island. There is a Memorandum of Understanding between North and South that's been signed.
"I think with a new Taoiseach and Minister for Health, it's time to reach out to the First Minister in the North and Minister for Health and have a real proper discussion about how we can have a zero Covid island and that means taking hard decisions about quarantine of travellers.”
Dr Mary Favier, President of the Irish College of General Practitioners, agreed that there was no need to panic, but said that GPs had started to see a rise in cases in recent weeks.
If cases continue to duplicate the country could be back to April levels of infection within four weeks, she warned.
We have choices to make, it would be such a pity to lose ground. If the R number rises to 1.5 by the end of August, we will be back to April levels.
Dr Favier said frontline workers are exhausted and were alarmed at the prospect of having “to do it all again” in the Autumn if there was a second wave.
Dr Lambert said it would be impossible to eliminate the virus, but there should be an ambition to minimise the importing of cases.
All options for prevention should be considered such as screening at the airport for arrivals from high risk countries.
He said he would encourage people not to travel unnecessarily.
There was a need for a campaign targeted at young people, to make masks popular.