UCC professor flags concerns about schools reopening

UCC professor flags concerns about schools reopening
Prof. Gerry Killeen, AXA Research Chair in ApplieD Pathogen Ecology, UCC.Picture Denis Minihane.

A LEADING expert on viruses has expressed major concerns over the decision to reopen schools later this month. 

Professor Gerry Killeen, Axa research chair of applied pathogen ecology at the School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences in UCC said he believes it is not the right time to reopen schools. 

"You can’t reopen them safely with ongoing transmission," he told The Echo. "I worry that again we’re going to learn the hard way and it will take a tragedy before we put the politics aside and realise that this virus is a technical issue and it needs a technically informed response." 

His comments come in the wake of some criticism that the government's latest announcement regarding the tightening of some restrictions has been contradictory and confusing.

"A lot of inconsistencies have been highlighted," said Professor Killeen. "It’s not that the restrictions don’t make sense. It’s the exceptions that really don’t make sense and look very political in nature. 

"There’s no technical basis for them."

The restrictions announced on Tuesday include lower limits on indoor and outdoor events, with exceptions for weddings and mass, the moving of sport behind closed doors and fresh advice for people over 70.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the "harsh reality" is that recent trends and the spread of the virus are "very serious".

Professor Killeen yesterday asked that people become "more mindful" of the "little opportunities" which enable the virus to spread. 

"All of those little opportunities add up," he said. "That’s what’s gotten us back to a level of epidemic growth that’s quite terrifying."

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