Restrictions could extend until May unless numbers decrease, Covid adviser to GPs warns

While the vast majority of the public were following the regulations, Dr Mary Favier was very concerned that too many were still out and about.
Restrictions could extend until May unless numbers decrease, Covid adviser to GPs warns

“We are not doing enough, there is still too much movement,” Dr Mary Favier said. Picture: Brian Lawless

Ireland could be facing public health restrictions until April or May if people do not curtail their movements, a leading medic and member of Nphet has warned.

Covid adviser to the Irish College of General Practitioners, Dr Mary Favier, has warned that if people do not curtail their movements then restrictions will have to be kept in place until April or May.

“We are not doing enough, there is still too much movement,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.

Traffic on the roads was heavier than it had been during the first lockdown last March with more people going to work, she said.

While the vast majority of the public were following the regulations, Dr Favier was very concerned that too many were still out and about.

GPs were concerned that as people returned to work recently the spread of the virus was not slowing down.

“GPs are continuing to see lots of Covid cases. We had thought it had eased, but towards the end of last week we started seeing asymptomatic patients that need testing.” 

Unless people stopped moving about the numbers would decrease very slowly, she said.

“We have to reduce contacts.” 

Hospitals were under significant pressure at present, said Dr Favier. 

If numbers were not reduced then restrictions would have to remain in place.

“We’re still going to be in this situation until March, April or May,” she warned.

Dr Favier said she would appeal to people not to go to work and for employers to facilitate working from home.

An infectious diseases expert says it will take weeks more for our third wave of Covid-19 to tail off.

Professor Sam McConkey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) says the surge in cases after Christmas has created many more secondary infections.

"We are still seeing those secondary cases in households and it takes a few weeks for those numbers to really drop.

"I think it is dropping and I am hoping that it will continue to drop in the next couple of weeks.

"I'm reasonably optimistic that it will."

Over the weekend, hundreds of people received fines for travelling outside their 5km limit.

Many more were given cautions and sent home after being stopped at Garda checkpoints as the force ramped up enforcement of the Public Health Act.

Up until last Thursday, Gardaí had only issued 37 on-the-spot fines of €100.

Over the weekend, there was a massive increase in the number of people ticketed - so many that Garda Headquarters is still counting them all.

In Co Wicklow alone, more than 170 people were fined - 100-plus on Saturday, and at least 70 more on Sunday - with 400 drivers sent home with a caution.

More than 30 were ticketed at just one checkpoint at Newcastle Woods in Co Roscommon on Sunday and 70 other drivers given a warning.

It is understood similar levels of enforcement have taken place in all parts of the country.

A group stopped on the M7 near Newbridge in Co Kildare on Saturday night were all fined for making an unnecessary journey and the car seized from the uninsured driver.

Another driver was arrested for dangerous driving after being caught speeding on the M1 near Ardee in Co Louth.

He also got a fixed-charge notice for being over 100 kilometres from home.

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