The Government will regret not imposing level four or five restrictions, according to a scientist at University College Cork (UCC).
Professor Tom Cotter was speaking after the Government rejected the recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the whole of Ireland to level five restrictions, instead imposing level three restrictions across the country.
Level five restrictions would have seen what could be described as a full-scale lockdown implemented across Ireland in a bid to prevent further spread of Covid-19, amid increased cases across the country in recent weeks.
The Government will regret not imposing level five restrictions in the coming weeks, warned Tom Cotter, Professor of Biochemistry at UCC.
Taking to Twitter after level three restrictions were announced, Professor Cotter said:
“Mark my words they will regret this.
“Going to level three instead of four or five is not going to have any substantive effect on infection levels,” he added.
Speaking to The Echo on Tuesday, Professor Cotter explained:
“Moving from level two to level three is going to have very little impact on a virus that is now spreading rapidly in the community.
“It's only a short matter of time before we will be forced to go to a higher level.
“To stop this virus you need to go in hard and quick to break the cycle of virus spread,” he said.
“A quick sharp shock is easier to live with than a long drawn out struggle.”
Professor Cotter also raised concerns about Ireland’s intensive care capacity to deal with any increase in cases.
His concerns come amid warnings from returning Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan who said Ireland could see up to 2,300 cases per day by November 7 if the current trend continues.
In a letter to the government, Dr Holohan said Ireland would see 43 people being admitted to hospital per day in such a scenario.
“The NPHET believes that proactive and robust measures must now be taken such that very significant suppression of the disease with a reproduction number well below 1.0 is achieved,” he explained.
"It is therefore recommended that the Government apply Level five measures across the country from midnight Monday, October 5 for a period of four weeks.
“A graduated approach would, ultimately, result in application of Level 5 measures as mitigation,” he added.
However, the government rejected NPHET’s advice on Monday with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar criticising Dr Holohan’s proposal for a level five lockdown, claiming it had not been thought through and was delivered with no prior consultation.
“It was landed on us on a Sunday night as a surprise and without consultation,” Mr Varadkar claimed, speaking on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live.
“We can’t say for certainty if the country can afford a second lockdown,” he added.
Denying that the decision is being made between economy and public health, Mr Varadkar said it was about “public interest always first”.