Expert 'can’t see how two weeks will be sufficient' to contain virus in Kildare, Offaly and Laois

Professor Tómas Ryan said that while more people were wearing face coverings, he felt that people were not observing enough physical distance
Expert 'can’t see how two weeks will be sufficient' to contain virus in Kildare, Offaly and Laois
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Immunology expert Professor Tómas Ryan has warned that if there are further cases of Covid-19 in the counties of Laois, Offaly and Kildare, then it would be necessary to extend the restrictions to four to six weeks.

Last week, it was announced that people in Kildare, Offaly and Laois would not be permitted to travel outside their own county.

The measures came into effect on Saturday and will remain in place for two weeks.

Under the measures, cafés and bars will be closed unless they are doing takeaway or outdoor dining, which is limited to 15 customers.

Cinemas, gyms, cultural venues and other entertainment venues will close.  All sport will be cancelled, though non-contact training for up to 15 people can continue.  Retail stores can remain open under strict social distancing rules and churches can be open for private prayer.

Prof Ryan, an Associate Professor at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, told Newstalk Breakfast that there had to be a trade-off – either two to three weeks of severe restrictions or four to six weeks of lesser restrictions which was what was happening at present.

“I can’t see how two weeks will be sufficient to contain this.” 

Prof Ryan said that while more people were wearing face coverings, he felt that people were not observing enough physical distance and that the reopening of schools could have to be reconsidered.

Health care workers continued to put their lives on the line, they did not need to have to cope with a second surge, he said.

A regional approach was the way to go, he suggested. 

“Local lockdowns are better than the whole country.” 

Having a traffic light system of zones – green and red, would allow some counties to open up if they had not had cases for over two weeks.

“This system has been used in other countries and it worked very well. The evidence is that using the green zone system can flatten the curve.”

The World Health Organisation says countries are correct to put in place local lockdowns instead of country-wide measures.

It comes as the global number of Covid-19 cases has reached 20 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Centre.

The grim milestone was reached in the early hours of Tuesday morning, Irish time, with 20,011,186 cases worldwide.

The total number of global coronavirus deaths stands at 734,664, according to experts at Johns Hopkins, the American university whose aggregated tally has become the main reference for monitoring the disease.

Health officials believe the real figure of cases worldwide is in fact far higher than the Johns Hopkins tally, due to testing limitations and the fact as many as 40% of people infected have no symptoms.

- additional reporting by PA


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