There is an urgent need for an all-island approach to tackle the spread of Covid-19, according to a Cork expert.
Professor Tom Cotter warned that different strategies on either side of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will allow Covid-19 to continue spreading.
He explained the virus does not recognise borders and implored governments north and south of the border to implement an all-island approach to tackle it.
Professor Cotter, who has been Professor of Biochemistry at University College Cork (UCC) since 1995, was speaking amid increases in Covid-19 cases both in the Republic and in Northern Ireland.
Twice in three days, the number of new cases in Northern Ireland has exceeded 1,000 while the 14 day incidence rate in NI is among the highest in the world.
With parts of Northern Ireland tackling severe infection rates, reports from the UK suggest it could be in store for a ‘circuit-breaker’ style lockdown.
Meanwhile, more than 1,800 cases of Covid-19 were notified in Ireland over the weekend, with almost 300 of those being notified in Cork.
Speaking to The Echo on Monday, Professor Cotter said an all-island approach is needed to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Failure to implement this will result in the virus spreading unchecked between the two jurisdictions, he warned.
The UCC lecturer also highlighted the need for improved rapid testing measures to increase testing capacity and improve turnaround testing times.
“This virus does not recognise borders of any sort so an all-island approach is a must and political governments north and south must facilitate this,” explained Professor Cotter.
“Different approaches on either side of the border will be cleverly exploited but this fiendish little virus.”
Professor Cotter added that implementing the all-island approach is a matter of urgency “because the virus will spread even faster by hopping between the two jurisdictions”.
“Where there is an opportunity to spread this virus will find it,” he said.
“We have to prevent this by having very similar strategies on both sides of the border.”
Professor Cotter said these strategies should include the introduction of rapid antigen testing which can provide results in 20 minutes.
He said such rapid testing would make contact tracing easier.