Covid-19: 'I don't think the government had much choice' says professor on phase four pause

Covid-19: 'I don't think the government had much choice' says professor on phase four pause

The recent increases in Covid-19 cases have drawn concern from public health experts. Picture: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

50 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland today bringing the total number of cases since the outbreak began to 26,303 with 81% of new cases among people under the age of 45.

There are no more deaths, meaning the death toll remains at 1,763. 

The recent increases in Covid-19 cases have drawn concern from public health experts.

Professor Emer Shelley, from the Royal College of Physicians, said the recent spike in cases needs to be addressed and that the government had little choice but to pause the advance to Phase Four of the lockdown exit. 

Professor Shelley said: "I don't think the government had much choice because the numbers had gone up so much and it's only in two or three weeks time that we will know whether or not they have stabilised at the current level or even if they have gone down or whether they have gone up further. 

"So to avoid that increase it was essential to press pause on the various loosening of restrictions. 

It is of concern that the numbers have gone up and have stayed up.

"It is not unexpected as there is a lot more movement around the country. 

"The key challenge now is to not allow them to go up any further but bring them back down again from before the recent increase."

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) made a number of recommendations this week as part of its advice to the government not to advance to Phase Four of Ireland's lockdown exit. 

Attendance at indoor events remains capped at 50 while attendance at outdoor sports is to stay at 200. 

So-called "wet-pubs" that do not serve food are also to remain shut which drew much criticism from publicans.

It will also be mandatory from Monday to wear facemasks in indoor retail settings.

Professor Shelley's comments follow similar interventions by public health experts this week on the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland. 

Earlier this week, Professor Anthony Staines, an expert in public health systems from Dublin City University (DCU) said community transmission should be prioritised and that the focus on foreign arrivals is misdirected.

Professor Staines said: "The vast majority of cases in Ireland are nothing to do with foreign tourists. NPHET reported the last time I saw it that there were a total of 8 or 10 cases over the last two weeks associated with foreign travel.

"The majority of these cases are [...] or local spread. So bringing that under control has to be our absolute priority."

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