WHO: Ireland doing the right thing with reopening of schools

When asked about testing at airports, Dr Mike Ryan said it could help reduce risk, but there was no guarantee
WHO: Ireland doing the right thing with reopening of schools

Executive Director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Mike Ryan. Picture: WHO

Dr Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation's Health Emergencies Programme, has said that Ireland was doing the right thing with the reopening of schools and that school administrators and teachers were to be commended on their diligence.

Dr Ryan, who is also leading the WHO’s team responsible for the international containment and treatment of Covid-19, told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that the issue of whether GPs were involved in the testing system was not important, what mattered was that people got tested and knew where to go to get tested.

He was responding to a suggestion by Dr Tómas Ryan of the School of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College Dublin that GPs should be removed from the process to speed up testing.

The Government deserved the space to get things right, there could not be a situation where decisions were made, criticised and then changed, what he described as “a whack-a-mole situation.” 

If control of the virus was turned into a political situation that would not be best for citizens. 

"There needed to be a consistent response," he said.

Dr Ryan added that people needed to know that the Government and public health authorities were “on the ball.” 

"Everyone needed to learn to live with the virus, to take precautions and protections.

There had to be balance and a competent strategy so everyone could have confidence in the system.

On the issue of a return to travel, Dr Ryan said that a tremendous amount of work was going in to make travel as safe as possible. 

He said that special consideration needed to be given to travel and how to manage it in a safe way. But he warned that "people who feel unwell should not travel."

When asked about testing at airports, he said it could help reduce risk, but there was no guarantee. 

He said: "As part of a complete strategy it could help, but it would not bring about a zero case situation."

The halting of the Oxford vaccine trial had been a good thing, he said as it showed due diligence.

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